The quest for integration
The customs subject, for example, is a particularly delicate one due to the fact that countries within the region have negotiated many d...
The customs subject, for example, is a particularly delicate one due to the fact that countries within the region have negotiated many different tax agreements using different terms.
Last week, Alicia Bárcenas, executive secretary of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Commission CEPAL (Comisión Económica para América Latina y El Caribe) said “we are facing a convoluted process that is going beyond the limits of the region, especially in the South Cone.”
She was referring to trade agreements such as ALBA and MERCOSUR, which are --according to some analysts consulted by La Estrella -- about to die, their fate depending on the will of governments in the region to either keep them alive or forget about them altogether.
Agustín Espinoza, director of the Ibero-American Secretariat for Brazil and Bolivia said that the challenges that must be surpassed for regional integration to take place are many. For instance, the main objectives of the process are still to be defined.
In the last meeting of the Central American Integration System (SICA), it was agreed that it was necessary to tackle the economic crisis and ratify the Esquipulas III Treaty, which aims to achieve social cohesion among the Central American people.
It was reported that integration is moving forward but at a slow pace, and in 2007 it generated more than $5 billion in regional commerce and 45 million jobs.
In the meeting, Rony Abiu from the Regional Central American Integration Support Program PAIRCA (Programa de Apoyo a la Integración Regional Centroamericana) added that it is necessary to strengthen the legal framework of the region and the governments’ systems of institutions. During the last four years PAIRCA has invested more than $25 million in Central America to support the Customs Union of the region, but the program will cease to exist on December 31 this year. However, there is a possibility that a new PAIRCA will start on September 2009.
The President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva said that due to the current global financial crisis regional integration is more important than ever.