Juan Manuel Santos, Former President of Colombia; and Former President Pro Tempore, Pacific Alliance : Interview

Juan Manuel Santos, Former President of Colombia; and Former President Pro Tempore, Pacific Alliance

Interview : Juan Manuel Santos

What policies and strategies have been implemented by the Pacific Alliance to enhance FDI?

JUAN MANUEL SANTOS: In a short period of time the Pacific Alliance has proven to be a successful integrative process in Latin America, and it has become a regional reference model. In regard to FDI, all member states have advanced in an integrated manner to become more attractive and maintain an important position in international markets. In relative terms the Pacific Alliance is the eighth-largest economy in the world, representing 38% of Latin America and the Caribbean’s GDP, and receives 41% of all FDI coming into the region. The four member economies are among the most competitive in the region, according to the World Bank’s “Doing Business 2017” report. To maintain and further improve upon these figures we must continue to develop the 26 different technical groups that are focused not only on achieving deep commercial integration, but also on improving the quality of life for all citizens.

Regarding trade, the Additional Trade Protocol to the Framework Agreement, which came into effect in 2016, allows member states to extend and better leverage the free trade agreement that already exists between them. This is being achieved through the modernisation of bilateral agreements, the implementation of regulatory measures that enhance the trade of goods and services, the promotion of production chains and small and medium-sized enterprises, the integration of stock markets through the Latin America Integrated Market, and through the implementation of the Platform for Academic and Student Mobility of the Pacific Alliance.

Some of the greatest achievements that citizens and businesses alike already enjoy include the elimination of tourism and business visas between all four member states, interconnectivity through a single-window foreign trade system and regulatory harmonisation processes facilitating trade among members. As a result, there are now more visitors to our countries, foreign trade authorities are able to exchange electronic phytosanitary certificates and the implementation of a Customs information exchange system is under way.

How would the integration of associated states benefit the Pacific Alliance?

SANTOS: Associate states will help consolidate the alliance as a platform for strategic integration in the Pacific basin, which will help its members further develop their commercial and economic relations with new partners. Furthermore, it will allow member states to improve their presence in global value chains, to promote the diversification of exports, to enhance added value to exportable supply, to strengthen trade and relations with the Asia-Pacific region, to improve access to new technologies and to attract FDI. The first economies to become associated states are Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Singapore.

To what extent have the measures carried out by Peru to enhance its global competitiveness informed Colombia’s approach?

SANTOS: Peru has one of the best economic performances in the region. Its commercial policies have advanced the implementation of successful globalisation processes that have given it access to top markets around the world, thus enhancing its competitiveness.

In the case of Colombia, we are seeking to enhance competitiveness through infrastructure, education, the elimination of bureaucracy, and the creation of more attractive incentives for investment. This process has led us to learn from good practices in Peru and around the globe. As a result, we are improving and expanding our roads, remodelling our airports and enhancing our ports. Furthermore, we have allocated more resources than before to increase the reach of education and improve its quality. These aspects, combined with efforts to build a peaceful future and significantly decrease poverty levels, have allowed us to become a country that offers more opportunities for the private sector.

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