Meeting of the High Level Group and Entry into Force of the Commercial Protocol
This week ends with a lot of activity within the Pacific Alliance. I would like to recall two important events:
- The 34th Meeting of the High Level Group (HLG) comprised by deputy ministers of trade and foreign affairs to follow up on the progress in several fields, including the work plan 2015-2016 on financial issues proposed by the Ministers of Finance of the PA members and the CEAP recommendations. The HLG also reviewed the progress of the technical groups on external relations, institutional matters, SMEs, services and capital, among others between the 25th-26 April. The technical groups met prior to the HLG assessment of progress.
- The Commercial Protocol will finally enter into force on the 1st May 2016. Public sources often refer to the benefits of the protocol that include liberalisation in 92 per cent of goods with a commitment to gradually reduce the tariffs of the remaining 8 per cent of goods. However there are some caveats for a better understanding of the real benefits of the commercial protocol. In fist place the actual levels of liberalisation in goods through the protocol are not as high, considering the already high levels of liberalisation achieved through previous bilateral FTAs. Gains here are then more marginal than what is suggested, including some goods that were previously excluded in the liberalisation schedules. Potential gains move in the direction of the rules of origin negotiated and the possibility of accumulation of origin rather than the actual levels of tariff reductions achieved. The flexibility on the rules of origin and accumulation/cumulation between the member states is one means to progress and build regional value chains.
In second place, I would also like to refer to an earlier contribution in Shaping the Pacific Alliance where I called the attention on the challenges related to the implementation of many provisions and the institutional adjustments required in the operation of the PA to avoid duplication. See pacificallianceblog.com. In relation to services the protocol would provide a stable and predictable framework, but encouraging and promoting the trade and services exports between the PA members and from the PA to the rest of the world certainly requires further developments in terms of harmonization, recognition and regulatory cooperation. This is only the start of a long journey!