ROK Wins an Observer Status at the Pacific Alliance, a Dynamic and Open Economic Cooperation Bloc in Latin America

The Republic of Korea has won an observer status at the Pacific Alliance created by key advocates of open and free trade in Latin America -- Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru – to seek free movement of their goods, services and workers among themselves.

Colombia, the chair country of the Pacific Alliance, formally notified in a diplomatic note verbale dated July 15 that the ROK was granted the aforementioned status. The note verbale was accompanied by a joint letter from Colombia’s Foreign Minister Maria Holguin and Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Sergio Diaz-Granados to the ROK’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se offering congratulations on the observer accession.

On the sidelines of the Sixth Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) held in Bali, Indonesia, on June 13-14, Minister Yun met bilaterally with the head delegates from member states of the Pacific Alliance. On those occasions, he relayed the willingness of the ROK government to accede to the Alliance as an observer and asked for their support for the ROK’s bid.

The Pacific Alliance was formally launched in June 2012 for its member states to strengthen their competitiveness through open and free trade. The bloc represents a population of 210 million, with a GDP amounting to 2 trillion US dollars, similar to ASEAN in scale. As its main goal is to strengthen cooperation with the Asia-Pacific region, the ROK’s observer status at the Alliance is expected to contribute to further expanding cooperation with countries in Latin America.

The ROK’s observer status at the Pacific Alliance is expected to allow the country to: formally attend the Alliance’s meetings to learn about its progress and put forward the ROK's opinions on matters of its concern; prepare for a possible link between the Pacific Alliance and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the future; and contribute to completing an FTA belt with Pacific rim countries. The ROK has already concluded FTAs with three of the four member states of the Pacific Alliance – Chile, Peru and Colombia – and is seeking to resume FTA negotiations with Mexico.

As an observer of the Pacific Alliance, the ROK government will start to attend its meetings from the second half of this year. In addition, the government will relay key business information to Korean companies in an expedient manner. It will also positively consider building high-level dialogue mechanisms with the Pacific Alliance if deemed necessary.

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