PACIFIC ALLIANCE AND SINGAPORE CONCLUDE NEGOTIATIONS FOR THE FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (PASFTA)

AP/ 21st of July of 2021. The Pacific Alliance (PA) and Singapore have concluded negotiations of the Pacific Alliance-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (PASFTA). This was welcomed by the Ministers of Trade of Colombia Ms. Maria Ximena Lombana, of Peru Ms. Claudia Cornejo, of Mexico Ms. Tatiana Clouthier and Mr. Andres Allamand the Minister of Foreign Relations of Chile as members of the PA and Mr. Gan Kim Yong Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore via a videoconference on July 21st.

Maria Ximena Lombana, Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism for Colombia, in her capacity of Pro Tempore President of the PA announced the closing of negotiations of the PASFTA and highlighted the strengthen of our commercial partnership ties with Singapore.

“This FTA marked a milestone for the PA as the biggest step in our integration with the Asia Pacific Region which allow us to grant Singapore the status as the first Associated State to the PA. In 2017, the Pacific Alliance launched negotiations with Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, which are Candidates to be Associated States to develop instruments for economic and commercial integration, stressing our commitment to effectively insert ourselves in the Asia Pacific Region.”

“With this new Agreement between Singapore and the Pacific Alliance we are fulfilling this vision path improving the commercial relationship, attracting investments, expanding market access of goods, and boosting access for service suppliers in a wide range of sectors. Reaching Singapore’s market allows using regional inputs from different countries enhancing productive regional chains. We expect to attract Singaporean investors to the Pacific Alliance’s extended market as a productive and export platform to the region.”

“The Alliance perceives that being an Associated State is as mechanism that promotes free trade agreements and provides windows of opportunities for cooperation. This instrument will enable to explore areas for collaboration on technology and digital economy that may include the linking of SG’s national Single Window with the PA’s, port management and logistics, infrastructure and urban solutions, energy collaboration and food trade. Additionally, Singapore suggested the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) as other initiative which we may explore with the PA states, recognizing that it may bring tangible benefits for all the countries involved.”

“The Pacific Alliance is in alignment with Singapore’s idea on free trade agreements, which will bring growth and ensure long-term sustainable economic development, and will also boost our commercial and economic relationship.”

Mr. Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Trade and Industry for Singapore said that, “Singapore is honoured to be joining the Pacific Alliance in announcing the conclusion of the Pacific Alliance-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. The PASFTA establishes a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial economic partnership that builds on existing agreements between the Pacific Alliance and Singapore. This agreement complements Singapore’s existing bilateral and plurilateral links with each Pacific Alliance country, including the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement, Peru-Singapore FTA, and, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. It is significant that the PASFTA will be our first FTA with Colombia.”

“The PASFTA represents the shared commitment by the Pacific Alliance and Singapore to persevere with greater economic integration and support the rules based multilateral trading system. It sends a powerful message to the global community that our countries remain open for business, and despite the pressures placed on economic multilateralism, we want to reach out to one another and create more opportunities for our people. We want to build on this foundation, grow our links even more, and generate opportunities for our people and businesses.”

“We agree with the Pacific Alliance that the Associated Status provides a platform for collaboration in various areas such as energy collaboration, food trade, digital economy, infrastructure and urban solutions, port management and logistics, and the linking of National Single Windows.”

The Pacific Alliance comprises of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Collectively, it has a combined population of 230 million, a per capita GDP of 19 thousand US dollars and exports that reach 627 US billion dollars, making the Alliance the 8th largest exporter in the world. In 2019, Singapore’s total trade in goods with the Pacific Alliance was S$6.1 billion, which accounted for 33.2% of our total trade in goods with Latin America.

The PA is also positioned us as the 8th largest economy, attracting 56 million tourists, representing 41% of Latin America and the Caribbean GDP and accounting for 38% of its foreign direct investment. Additionally, both, the World Competitiveness Centre and the Doing Business rank our countries as the most competitive in the region.

Singapore became an Observer State to the Pacific Alliance in 2014, and a Candidate Associated State in 2017. This event complies with mandate from the presidential statement of the PA´s Presidents and the Prime Minister of Singapore at Santiago’s Summit last December.

Singapore and the Pacific Alliance will work towards a formal signing during the Pacific Alliance Summit in December in 2021, in Colombia. Singapore will become the first Associate State of the Pacific Alliance upon signing of the PASFTA. The Pacific Alliance and Singapore look forward to using this platform to catalyse closer people-to-people ties, and further economic cooperation in areas of mutual interest such as infrastructure, digital and innovation, energy, and food trade.

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Pacific Alliance countries define the same rules of the game for marketing medical devices

July 19, 2021 – The Free Trade Commission of the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru), in which the Vice Ministers of Trade of the 4 countries participated, signed today an agreement (Decision number 12) that eliminates the technical obstacles to the commercialization of medical devices within the mechanism.

In other words, the same requirements were defined in the 4 markets for the commercialization of this type of goods, in terms of good manufacturing practices, certificates of free sale, sanitary registrations, labeling and conditions of sale that must be complied with in the trade of this type of goods. With the signing of this agreement, the countries assume the commitment to initiate the corresponding internal regulatory modifications.

This harmonization not only has a positive impact on the trade facilitation strategy in the Pacific Alliance and boosts trade within the bloc, but also becomes another mechanism that will help the safe economic reactivation of the countries.

With this, regulatory harmonization is now complete for 4 sectors: cosmetics, food supplements, household cleaning and now medical devices.

Trade in this type of products within the Pacific Alliance represents more than US$47 million.

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The Pacific Alliance and the European Union held three cooperation workshops on digital economy and society

The Pacific Alliance and the European Union held a series of cooperation workshops on digital economy and society between June 15 and 17, 2021. There, they addressed topics such as the digitization of public services and digital identity and electronic signature; sustainable, secure and efficient digital infrastructures, especially in relation to 5G and cybersecurity, as well as the digital transformation of companies and public services.

The workshops were attended by more than 60 public officials from Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, in charge of implementing the Regional Digital Market Roadmap. There, both European and Pacific Alliance countries’ experiences in terms of public policies, regulatory frameworks and initiatives, among others, were shared.

As a result of these workshops, it was agreed to hold technical meetings related to the use of electronic signatures, interest was expressed in the exchange of best practices and experiences in the area of 5G and possible cooperation in the area of personal data protection.

In September 2019, the Joint Declaration of the European Union (EU) and the Pacific Alliance (PA) established a framework for cooperation between the two blocs.

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LAB4+, the Pacific Alliance Entrepreneurship and Innovation Forum that will connect more than 200 companies in the region

  • The event will seek to promote trade in services between groups of exporters, buyers, startups and investors.

  • In its eight editions, this meeting has generated export opportunities for more than US$ 65 million and investment opportunities for more than US$ 22 million.

As part of the iconic initiatives of the Pacific Alliance’s promotion entities, the IX Entrepreneurship and Innovation Forum LAB4 + will be held between July 14 and 26, focusing on the promotion of trade in services and with the participation of entrepreneurs in FinTech, HealthTech, AgriTech, EdTech, internet of things, artificial intelligence, blockchain, virtual and augmented reality and cybersecurity.

The purpose of LAB4+ is to promote the safe reactivation of the region’s economy through the generation of business opportunities for exporters and entrepreneurs in the bloc’s service sector.

The event also seeks to position the countries of the Pacific Alliance as hemispheric leaders in the promotion of entrepreneurship, innovation and the use of technologies of the fourth industrial revolution.

“Innovation has become a transversal axis for ProChile. In this sense, LAB4+ allows an additional possibility for startups and scaleups in our country to connect with the most important innovation ecosystems in Latin America, in search of alliances, business and new investments. LAB4+ takes place in a period of unprecedented digital acceleration, which has allowed many of them to scale globally,” said ProChile’s General Director, Jorge O’Ryan.

“This multilateral meeting promotes the participation of companies and investors from countries on four continents, which demonstrates the potential of the Pacific Alliance in terms of business. During the pro tempore presidency of Colombia, we have proposed to jointly promote our offer of services and the attraction of foreign investment,” said Flavia Santoro, president of ProColombia.

In this regard, Monica Duhem Delgado, Head of the Global Economic Intelligence Unit of the Mexican Ministry of Economy highlighted that “the COVID19 pandemic has urged companies worldwide to rethink their business strategies and innovate, and LAB4+ has become the ideal space where the Pacific Alliance service companies demonstrate this potential. Mexico celebrates the opportunity that the companies of the bloc have in this edition to expand their opportunities beyond the North American region and to include other markets in Europe, Asia and Latin America. In the case of Mexico, the participation of MSMEs exporting services and startups was very high. We wish the greatest success and the closing of new business to all participating companies.”

“With the LAB4+ Forum we promote the development of an ecosystem within the group and the internationalization of a high value-added offer is enhanced. We hope that the 30 Peruvian SMEs of services with technological products that will participate, and all the attendees of the bloc, can access important opportunities for their business development and economic growth,” said the executive president of PromPerú, Amora Carbajal.

Agenda and participants

Participants in this version of LAB4+ come from priority markets such as Canada, the United States and Costa Rica, as well as Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, countries that make up the Pacific Alliance. For the first time in the history of this forum, investors from Europe and the United Arab Emirates will be invited to take advantage of their interest in the bloc’s markets.

The sessions, which will be held virtually, will be as follows:

  • Inauguration and academic agenda, from July 14-15.
  • Business roundtable, from July 21 to 23.
  • Pitch sessions, from July 21 to 26.

LAB4 + is the pioneer event in joint promotion activities in Latin America, including export and investment components focused solely on trade in services.

This is the third time that Colombia organizes the event, first held in 2013, and which is held annually, developed by the bloc’s promotion authorities: ProChile, ProColombia, the Mexican Ministry of Economy and PromPerú.

36 Pacific Alliance teachers graduated from the New Zealand Global Certificate + Teacher Training course

July 13, 2021.- 36 English language teachers and government officials from Pacific Alliance countries graduated from the New Zealand Global Competence Certificate + Teacher Training course, an initiative of Education New Zealand and the Pacific Alliance English Network (RIAP, by its acronym in Spanish).

The Global Competence Certificate or GCC, created by AFS Intercultural Programs and facilitated by Massey University, aims to help students become more aware of how culture influences human interactions. Likewise, it empowers students and teachers with tangible skills fundamental to building just and peaceful societies.

“This celebration today is first and foremost yours but it is also a milestone for New Zealand because it reaffirms the commitment we have to the Pacific Alliance. We are pleased to continue to build and strengthen this relationship in various areas, including the creation of educational and people-to-people links,” said Linda Te Puni, New Zealand Ambassador to Chile and Peru.

The course, led by professors from Massey University, lasted six weeks. During that period, there were two weeks of training sessions, in which teachers were able to put their new intercultural understanding and communication skills into practice in their classes and in their own engagements with their students.

“The promotion of the English language allows our nationals to expand access to educational, scientific, technological and labor opportunities, while contributing to the formation of a more productive human capital and the insertion of our economies in international markets, with a view to strengthening our competitiveness in global arenas,” said Adela Maestre, Director of Regional Concertation and Integration Mechanisms of the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and National Coordinator of Colombia for the Pacific Alliance.

The Pacific Alliance English Network (RIAP) aims to develop a cooperation strategy to improve this language in the bloc, a task in which it has been supported by New Zealand as an observer country.

“We are honored and privileged to participate in this teacher training initiative. Equally, we are proud of the passion and dedication that each one demonstrated throughout the course. We saw how they invested their time and energy in developing the global and tangible skills essential now more than ever to live, work and make a real social impact in their classrooms, communities and around the world,” said Chris Carey, Executive Director of Global Engagement at Massey University.

World Bank supports internationalization of service SMEs of the Pacific Alliance

July 9, 2021.- The World Bank will make a contribution of US$250,000 to the Pacific Alliance (PA) to be used for the internationalization project of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the service trade sector that are provided digitally, initiative being undertaken by the PA services subcommittee.

This was defined during the meeting held by the National Coordinators of the member countries of the Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru) and representatives of the international organization, in which it was also established that the terms of reference have already been agreed, including a roadmap that will guide the development of the project, which will be carried out over 2 years.

The main objective is to identify regulatory barriers to international trade and investment in knowledge-based services and digital services in the PA. Likewise, to implement policies and measures that translate into concrete actions to facilitate regional trade. On the other hand, it will allow the Alliance to position itself as a leader in regional integration compared to other integration schemes in the world.

Finally, the implementation of the initiative will significantly increase, in the medium term, international trade in services and foreign direct investment in the region.

It will be developed in 4 stages:

  1. Profile analysis: who are the investors and traders of the Pacific Alliance in digital matters.
  2. Assessment of regulatory barriers and dialogue with the private sector: understanding what entrepreneurs are facing.

  3. Recommendations and adoption of an action plan for regulatory reform.

  4. Implementation and follow-up of the Action Plan.

In this way, the bloc continues to make progress in strengthening trade and in projects that leverage economic reactivation in the Pacific Alliance.

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Switzerland and the Pacific Alliance discuss their experiences in strengthening vocational technical education through the dual model

July 8, 2021.- In order to further strengthen the ties between the education system and the productive system in the region and discuss the importance of professional training that involves the private business world and the public education and employment systems in the countries of the Pacific Alliance (PA), the webinar “How to build trust between the education sector and the private sector to develop an efficient professional training system between industry and training institutes” was organized by the Technical Group of Education (GTE by its acronym in Spanish) of the PA and Switzerland, in its capacity as Observer State.

The Pacific Alliance has worked, through the GTE, to strengthen the Technical Professional Education of the four countries, with the understanding that these actions help develop human capital and boost the productivity and competitiveness of the economies, as well as contribute to overcoming socioeconomic inequality and achieve the objectives of the region’s social inclusion policies.

Why could Switzerland be an example for PA countries? This country has one of the most competitive and innovative economies, thanks to its education system and has a long tradition in the field of vocational education and training, also known as “dual education”. At the end of compulsory school, two-thirds of Swiss young people choose the vocational training path, where there are at least 400 career options.

These professions are the result of the high demand for different skills required by the private sector, which is actively and continuously involved with the curricula for the education sector. Thus, dual education is oriented towards the real and current demand of the economy and corresponds to the available jobs, to the extent that there is a low percentage of youth unemployment and few “neither…nor” (“neither study nor work”) in Switzerland.

Learn more about vocational training in Switzerland here.

The event was attended by Mirko Giulietti, Undersecretary of State for the Americas of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs; Ursula Renold, Professor of Educational Systems at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich; Emanuel Wüthrich, Deputy Director International Affairs of the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET), Christian Michel Casulleras, General Director of the Swiss-Mexican Chamber, and Santiago Fernández de Soto, Head of the Office of Cooperation and International Affairs of the Ministry of Education of Colombia, on behalf of the GTE of the PA, in addition to the testimony of companies that have adopted the dual model in Mexico, such as Zurich Seguros, Firmenich and Schlinder.

The Coordinator of the GTE, who gave the closing remarks of the webinar, highlighted this event as an initial milestone in the strengthening of Dual Education initiatives in each of the PA countries. He also emphasized that it is expected to continue with the support of the Swiss Government in future spaces for learning, exchange and reflection on the progress of this topic in the member countries.

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Pacific Alliance and Singapore: Partners in Globalization

June 29, 2021 – As part of the activities to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Pacific Alliance, the seminar “Pacific Alliance and Singapore: partners in globalization” was held, led by the Embassy of Colombia in Singapore on behalf of the pro tempore presidency of the Pacific Alliance.

The event was attended by the Minister of State and Minister of Trade and Industry of Singapore, Alvin Tan, who accompanied the ambassadors of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru in Singapore. The event was opened by the Vice Minister of Foreign Trade of Colombia, Laura Valdivieso Jiménez, who in her speech highlighted the 10 years of existence of the Pacific Alliance, spoke of the strengths of this bloc and the progress in the negotiation of a trade agreement with Singapore, a candidate country to be considered as an Associated State of the PA.

Minister Tan for his part recalled that the seminar shows the different interests that can be explored between the four countries and Singapore. He recalled that the PA is a champion of free trade and has achieved important developments in areas such as liberalization for investment, visas, stock market exchange. He said that the PA is connected with Singapore and this makes them partners in globalization. He also invited more Latin American companies to enter Southeast Asia and affirmed that there is a lot of potential between the regions.  He also stated that this trade agreement will be the first Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed between Singapore and Colombia. In addition, he said that business must be supported by a strong structure and mentioned that for Singapore the agreement will be fundamental in terms of cooperation, infrastructure, innovation and food trade.

In the panel of ambassadors, special emphasis was placed on the benefits for Singapore of being the first Associate State of the Pacific Alliance. Among them, they mentioned the advantage of being the first Associated country with access to the eighth largest economy in the world such as the PA. They also mentioned the possibility of accessing digital economies, the integration of companies and startups, the DEPA agreement that promotes digital trade, rules of origin, value chains, job creation, the promotion of knowledge-intensive goods, maritime and air transport services and investment in a harmonious environment between countries.

Chile spoke of the need for clean energy, emphasizing green hydrogen, and invited other countries to invest. Colombia also spoke about energy and the ease for companies to maintain operations from any country in the alliance. He also referred to the possibility of Singapore developing startup projects and financial support. Mexico referred to the importance of establishing alliances and developing best practices and synergies in cooperation, technology and production chains. Peru, for its part, referred to food security, recalling that although the PA currently produces 13% of the world’s food, by 2029 it is expected to reach 28% with nearly 200,000 hectares covered. He also mentioned superfoods for long and healthy lifestyles, and the need for organized value chains so that products arrive on time and in the expected conditions.

Dr. Francis Chong, senior director of emerging markets at Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, who was part of the panel, spoke about the importance of medical supplies. Likewise, he emphasized that in this digital era, the physical interaction of people cannot be left aside to generate associations and create channels.

During the closing of the day, Eduardo Pedroza, General Secretary of PECC, participated, who emphasized the PA as a mechanism for dialogue, recalling the termination of PAFSTA, and referred to the importance of meetings like this one, so that the community has knowledge of the advantages of being allies with the PA.

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The second meeting of the High Level Group of the Pacific Alliance was held under the pro tempore presidency of Colombia

June 15, 2021.- The second meeting of the High Level Group (GAN, by its acronym in Spanish) of the Pacific Alliance was held this Tuesday under the pro tempore presidency of Colombia, made up of the Vice Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, within the framework of the 41st Round of Technical Groups and Committees.

The meeting was headed by the Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs, Adriana Mejía, and the Head of the Negotiating Team, Luis Felipe Quintero, both authorities from Colombia – the country that holds the pro tempore presidency of the regional bloc. Also participating were the Undersecretary of International Economic Relations of Chile, Rodrigo Yáñez; the Undersecretary of Foreign Trade of Mexico, Luz María de la Mora; and the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ignacio Higueras, and the Vice Minister of Foreign Trade, Diego Sebastián Llosa, of Peru.

On the occasion, the authorities listened to the intervention of the Pacific Alliance Business Council by Paola Buendía García, from ANDI. Subsequently, the Vice Ministers reviewed the current status of the negotiations with the candidates for Associated State and Roadmaps on the Sustainable Management of Plastics, Empowerment and Autonomy of Women, Regional Digital Market and Improvement of Management. Likewise, the GAN addressed issues related to the validity of the Cooperation Fund.

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With a webinar on the forms of measurement disaggregated by sex, the gender focus training of the technical groups and committees of the Pacific Alliance comes to an end

On Wednesday, June 9, the last day of training on gender approach was held for the members of the technical groups, committees and working groups of the Pacific Alliance (PA), organized by the Technical Group on Gender of the PA with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The webinar “Forms of measurement disaggregated by sex”, which was attended by more than 100 participants, was led by Alicia Frohmann, an ECLAC consultant with a long career in international trade and in academic, government and international organizations. She also directs the global project Gender, Social Inclusion and Cooperation Trade of the United Kingdom. As an academic, she is a professor at the Institute of International Studies of the University of Chile and the Center for Latin America of the University of Heidelberg.

At the event, the importance of integrating a gender approach in the analysis and evaluation of any initiative through the use of sex-disaggregated data was highlighted. Similarly, developing an intersectional and multidimensional analysis is key to identify and understand the situation of women in any scenario. Finally, the speaker emphasized the great opportunity that the technical groups, committees and subcommittees of the Pacific Alliance have to create spaces for sharing experiences, strengths and weaknesses in the collection and use of sex-disaggregated data in each of their countries.

These three days of training also addressed issues such as the incorporation of gender approach – in a transversal way – in the work of the groups and the use of inclusive language, and the development of projects with this approach, all this in order to achieve what was established in 2015 through the Declaration of Paracas to promote gender equality and mainstream the gender perspective in the various initiatives and actions of the Pacific Alliance.

See the full presentation here.