The Pacific Alliance has approved the incorporation of Argentina as the 43rd observer state of the integration scheme. The decision constitutes an effort by new Argentina’s President Macri to establish closer ties with the PA.
What does it mean for Argentina? This move sends a political message from Argentina that the new government is taking serious steps to move away from his predecessor’s -Cristina Kirchner- foreign policy who was very critical of the PA’s approach to regionalism.
President Macri volunteers to become the middle man between the PA and Mercosur to look for means in which both groups could converge. At the political level, this sounds like convincing rhetoric, however, at the practical level it seems more difficult to reach a unified view within Mercosur on how to engage with the PA. More importantly, the political and domestic situation in Brasil and Venezuela raise concerns as to the progress that Mercosur could make in the short term, let alone on its relations with third parties.
What does it mean for the PA? at the political level, it builds momentum for the PA reinforcing the relevance of its open regionalism approach that seems to have faded for more than a decade.
At the strategic and policy level? The step means an opportunity for the PA to examine and develop a real policy behind the status of observer states and the role they could play. It seems that different states pursue different goals by becoming observer states, some are merely political, while others involve economic and more general cooperation interests. Does the status of observer state suit all the range of purposes and expectations that third states have when expressing their interest to built closer ties with the PA? Probably not, but I’m interested to hear your views in the comments!
Finally, Argentina’s decision proves once again the enormous influence that political leadership and the ideological views of the governments in place have in developing regional ties and convergence.
President Macri will attend the next Presidential Meeting of the PA to be held on 1 July 2016.
Other new observer states of the PA include Czech Republic, Norway, Slovakia, Egypt, Ukraine, and Romania. The total number of observer states is currently 49.