The Pacific Alliance closes the year with a busy last week. A couple of significant events took place and deserve some consideration. First the meeting of the technical groups in Bogota from the 11 to the 13 December. Second the presidential election in Chile.
The meeting in Bogota gathered more than a dozen technical groups and subcommittees on issues regarding tourism, gender, institutional matters, digital agenda, education, regulatory cooperation, innovation, external relations and SMEs. Around 160 government officials from the four countries attended the meeting to discuss progress in the different areas and the action plans for 2018.
In addition, the presidential election in Chile gave a victory to Sebastian Piñera on 19 December. This is good news for the Pacific Alliance because it provides some stability and certainty on the continuity of the ‘new’ Chilean government with the original commitments to regionalism through the mechanism. Piñera is the former Chilean president from 2010 to 2014. He participated in the inception and early developments of the Pacific Alliance and will be in this role from 2018 to 2022.
However, with a regionalist project that is highly dependent upon presidential enthusiasms, that continuity is not guaranteed from the other members. Particularly, Colombia and Mexico will be electing new presidents in 2018. With new actors and domestic political agendas at the forefront of the presidential campaigns it is not clear what views and positions these new governments will take in regard to the Pacific Alliance. It is uncertain whether the political enthusiasm will remain to support its progress in the medium term. Colombia’s presidential pool for the first round of voting, comprises around 10 candidates from ex-guerrilla leaders to right wing candidates to coalition of parties’ candidates. A first round of voting will take place in May 2018. So far it is not clear what views the candidates hold regarding the Pacific Alliance although some of the left wing candidates present strong and opposing views (sometimes uninformed) against free trade. As expected the results of the polls are inconclusive at this stage with ‘favorites’ holding less than 20 per cent of the potential votes.