Mexico and Australia are not only two countries that share a series of internal and external values and principles such as democracy, human rights, sustainable development, and international peace and cooperation. They are also two nations fully integrated in the global economy, that maintain a similar view of an open, predictable and inclusive world order, and have warned of the risks of isolationism, protectionism and trade conflicts.
That is why Mexico and Australia negotiated and signed, along with other 10 countries, the most advanced and inclusive trade and investment mechanism between both shores of the Pacific Ocean, the so-called Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Unfortunately, the TPP is not advancing as expected, since its main promoter and largest economy worldwide, the US, has decided to withdraw from it. Facing this situation, both Mexico and Australia are actively looking for new and innovative mechanisms to promote more trade and investment between both shores of the Pacific Ocean. In the Latin American Region, one of those mechanisms is the Pacific Alliance.
The Pacific Alliance is a regional integration initiative comprised by Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, officially established on April 28th, 2011. It seeks to build an area of comprehensive integration; to drive further growth, development and competitiveness of its member economies, and to become a platform of political articulation, economic and commercial integration and projection to the world, with emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region. Australia was one of the first extra regional countries to be admitted as observer of the Pacific Alliance.
During March, the Pacific Alliance carried out a special ministerial meeting in Viña del Mar, Chile, to which Australia and the other Asia-Pacific signatory members of the TPP were invited. At the ministerial meeting, the Pacific Alliance ministers reaffirmed their commitment to free trade and discussed the current international situation. They also agreed to create the status of “Associated State” for the Alliance, which will further trade integration by allowing it to conduct trade negotiations with extra-regional countries or blocs that could lead in the near future to agreements with high-quality standards for trade.
Also, during that meeting, a High-Level Dialogue on Integration Initiatives in the Asia-Pacific Region took place. The High-Level Dialogue was convened by the four countries of the Pacific Alliance and the TPP members, with the aim of taking advantage of the regional platforms and using this initiative as an example of trade openness and as the axis of trade integration between Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region.
Australia was represented at the Viña del Mar summit by Trade Minister Steve Ciobo, who also held a bilateral meeting with his Mexican counterpart, Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo. They discussed ways to further boost the rapidly growing bilateral economic relation, as well as schemes to promote a more open and inclusive trans-pacific business environment. A very promising channel of consultation has been established, and in the coming months, more discussions will be held, and Mexico and Australia will continue working together to advance in those fields. It is important to mention that Mexico is already Australia’s main trade partner in Latin America, and is rapidly becoming the main investment partner of Australia in the region.