The presidents of Colombia, Peru, Chile and Mexico meet in the western city of Cali on Thursday in hopes of completing a nascent trade bloc that looks to the European Union as a model and aims to further open their trade with Asia. The leaders of Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Spain, all interested in eventually joining the bloc, are due to attend as observers. Costa Rica was signing a free trade agreement with Colombia on Wednesday.
The Pacific Alliance was formally inaugurated last June. All its members but Colombia already belong to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Asia-Pacific-wide trading bloc that includes Canada and the United States. In a televised speech Tuesday night, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, an economist and former foreign trade minister, called the alliance essential to “the most important process of integration in the history of Latin America.”