It has already been documented that one of the main reasons for the early success of the Pacific Alliance lies in its ability to show and prove real results by tackling areas and projects where member states share common views and interests. These refer to non-contentious areas such as cooperation in education, innovation, science and technology, as well as the promotion of SMEs.
However sooner than later the PA will have to deal with more sensitive areas of the deep integration process if it is to live up to the expectations created. The PA needs to work on the high hanging fruits and test the political will to tackle these areas which include:
Labour Mobility: this field comprises not only flexibility of migratory requirements for high and medium skill professionals and technical personnel, but also the recognition of their qualifications and requirements to practice in the territory of the parties.
Financial Integration: although parties are working into integrating their stock markets through MILA the operations undertaken within it continue to be low due to hurdles from different sources including differences in regulatory frameworks, barriers to institutional investors such as pension funds and inefficiencies coming from dual fees and non-unified clearance systems.
Unleash the potential of energy integration: Marczak and George call on the need to work on a comprehensive integrated energy matrix within the PA using the Central American (Central American Interconnection System) experience as a precedent.
Progress in these areas requires high levels of regulatory harmonization and convergence that could trigger disagreements among domestic stakeholders benefited by the status quo regulation. Moreover, engaging the private sector participation in funding long-term projects continues to be a challenge. Again harmonisation of regulatory frameworks regarding public-private partnerships constitutes a step in this direction.
I look forward to hearing your insights on areas of work that continue to be high hanging fruits of the Pacific Alliance Integration.
Sources: Jason Marczak and Samuel George, ‘Pacific Alliance 2.0: Next Steps in Integration’ (Atlantic Council and Bertelsmann Foundation, May 2016)