U.N. secretary: Latin America integration would strengthen trade presence

Latin American and Caribbean countries need to work together to be less vulnerable to potentially harmful trade accords, Alicia Bárcena, the United Nations' executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLA), said last week.

“The region must understand that by acting in an integrated manner it can be a negotiator that would be a lot stronger, a lot more solid, a lot more stable,”Bárcena said at the ECLA's conference in Mexico on Monday.

Bárcena's comments were delivered in response to a reporter's questions on the potential impact of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Latin America.

The accord involves 12 nations, including the United States, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore and New Zealand. The TPP has been approved at the level of the executive branch of each country, but the ratification is pending in all legislatures. 

While China is not part of the TPP, Bárcena noted that the country is working on a separate accord with 10 other countries in Asia, including all those in the TPP, as a reaction to the United States' role in the TPP.

“These are not accords of free trade but accords of rules," Bárcena said. "Our region has to determine whether the TPP will represent advantages."

She added that the TPP won´t just affect the three Latin countries involved. For instance, she said the impact that the accord will have on trade with Brazil should be looked at.

Bárcena concluded that the parallel accords being separately pushed by China and the United States appear to be a fight for influence, with individual countries needing to evaluate which side they do business with.

In addition to the discussion of trade accords, Bárcena also echoed the concerns of several groups regarding the issue of pharmaceutical patents being extended.

“The issue of extending the life for medicine patents affects the entire population because it restricts the use of generics,” she said.


Organizations in this story

Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean 1825 K St NW Washington, DC - 20006

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