MercoPress | Thursday, 21 September
Chile re-enters Andean Community
A council of Andean foreign ministers yesterday approved Chile’s re-entry to the Andean Community of Nations trade group after a three-decade absence, Peru’s foreign minister told local radio.
“The decision has just been made. ... We can say that starting right now, Chile is an associate member of the Andean Community,” Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde told RPP radio from New York.
Chile withdrew from the group in the 1970s, citing incompatibilities as military dictator Augusto Pinochet carried out free-market economic reforms. But under President Michelle Bachelet, Chile has aimed to strengthen regional trade pacts.
The Andean Community suffered a blow earlier this year when Venezuela withdrew to protest US free-trade deals with members Peru and Colombia. Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez has sought to mobilize opposition to Washington’s foreign policy and trade proposals throughout South America.
Leftist-run Bolivia also criticizes free-trade agreements with the United States but it has not abandoned the trade group, in which Ecuador is also a member.
Peru’s foreign minister said the council’s decision on Chile was legal and binding. A source at Chile’s Foreign Ministry said a joint commission will define Chile’s role as associate member over the next six months.
Chile is also an associate member of the Mercosur trade bloc, made up of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and, most recently, Venezuela.
The continent’s star economy, Chile wants to become a gateway nation between South America and Asia-Pacific countries and is working to establish ties on both sides of the oceanic divide.