Spaghetti Bowl of
To really seize the economic advantage of the
mix of free-trade agreements in the region, countries
need to weave them together into a seamless,
powerful market. Here’s how.
José Raúl Perales
Twenty years after the launch of market re- forms, Latin American countries are among the most active play- ers in the interna- tional trading system,
thanks to their participation in free-trade agreements (FTAs) and preferential market access accords.
As the network of Latin American
and Caribbean free-trade agreements
matures—with more than 20 intrare-
gional F TAs signed—this is the time
to work toward a convergence of the
region’s many agreements and mar-
ket access rules. Greater coordination
would not only strengthen individ-
ual economies but foster the region’s
global competitive position.
The flurry of regional FTAs began
with the 1994 North American Free
Trade Agreement (NAFTA) involving
Mexico, Canada and the United States.
Over the next decade, Mexico went on
to sign trade agreements with Costa
Rica (1995), Chile (1999) and the European Union (2000), to name just a
few. Those were followed in 2006 by a
framework agreement between Mexico and the Common Market of the
South (Mercosur)—setting the pace
for a veritable wave of Latin American commercial diplomacy.
The passage of FTAs has helped
Mexico and Chile become two of
Americas Quarterly SPRING 2012