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An agenda for the Pacific Alliance and its observer states

Prof. Dr. Gian Luca Gardini, FAU Chair of International Business and Society Relations with Focus on Latin America, talks about the South American free trade zone called the Pacific Alliance

Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have formed a successful free trade zone in South America called the Pacific Alliance (PA). Its success hasn’t remained unnoticed – 52 states including Germany, have joined the PA as observer states. However, cooperation between member states and observer states remains vague. Drawing up an agenda for future cooperation is the goal of a consortium of several institutions in which Prof. Dr. Gian Luca Gardini, Chair of International Business and Society Relations with Focus on Latin America, is playing a leading role. In our interview, he explains which opportunities are open to Germany with a cooperation with the PA.

Professor Gardini, which interests are the member states pursuing with the Pacific Alliance (PA)?

The main objectives of the Pacific Alliance are regional integration and the provision of a joint political and economic platform for the member states to push forward more effective international involvement, especially in the Asia Pacific region. The member states share a genuine preference for open economies and free trade, in contrast to some other Latin American countries. The creation of a free trade zone between the members is a good sign for this open-minded attitude, which corresponds closely to Germany and the EU’s preferences in terms of international trade.

The PA is very successful. What are the reasons for its success?

We should be cautious when evaluating the Pacific Alliance, but it certainly has great potential. It was set up only 6 years ago, but the results to date are impressive, such as the free trade zone set up between the member states that I mentioned earlier. Other achievements include the creation of a joint stock exchange, joint organisation of trade and investment promotion incentives as well as joint embassies and trade offices. Furthermore, the Pacific Alliance has scrapped the visa requirement for its citizens and set up a joint platform for study exchanges that has already awarded hundreds of scholarships.

Which opportunities does closer cooperation with the PA hold for Germany?

The member states of the PA are rapidly growing markets governed by the rule of law characterised by growth without inflation and solid institutions. Several opportunities for cooperation exist for Germany in both the private and public sectors. For example, this could involve promoting political cooperation on important issues such as climate change, green trade, protecting human rights and education. And German companies could find partners for investments, expanding markets, raw materials and opportunities for becoming involved in regional and global value chains.

How has the PA been received by the public in the member states?

The Pacific Alliance has a good press in the member states and enjoys broad support from the public. It is not perceived as a risk to the standard of living. Quite the opposite, in fact. The aim of the alliance is to create prosperity in order to improve living conditions in the member states. Social and educational projects as well as supporting small and medium-sized businesses, equality and digitalisation are also part of the agenda of the PA.

What role do you and FAU play during the cooperation consultation process?

The Pacific Alliance has aroused the interest of several countries across the globe. There are currently 52 observer states and 4 associate member states, which means there’s enormous potential for cooperation. However, the four PA members seem to be waiting for the observer states to make suggestions, while the observers are waiting for the alliance to propose an agenda. This is where FAU and the OECD come in. We’re drafting an agenda for cooperation between the alliance and its observers and associate members. Two events have already taken place in Stockholm and Copenhagen for this purpose. The third and last event will take place in Berlin under the patronage of the Federal Foreign Office and the presidency of the Pacific Alliance. FAU and the OECD will bring together politicians, diplomats, businesspeople, public servants and academics in order to formulate suggestions for collaboration in vocational training that is oriented towards digitalisation, language learning, new energy systems and new materials as well as medical technology. These are FAU’s strengths and the strengths of the German system as a whole. The aim is to present this agenda at the next Pacific Alliance summit, which is due to take place in July of this year in Mexico. This workshop offers FAU a unique opportunity to raise its profile with international and German policy makers, diplomats and representatives from business.

Pacific Alliance Workshop: Vocational training as a practical tool

In conjunction with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European Institute of International Studies (EIIS) and the Copenhagen Business School, FAU will be holding a workshop about vocational training and digitalisation in particular on 11 June 2018 from 10 am to 5 pm. Experts from FAU will be giving presentations about digital transformation, language skills, energy systems and medical technology and will be leading discussions. The event will take place at the Federation of German Industries (BDI) in Haus der Wirtschaft, Breite Strasse 29, Berlin.

Further information:

Prof. Dr. Gian Luca Gardini
Phone: +49 911 5302 656
gian.luca.gardini@fau.de