Andean Community Aims to Add Chile, Argentina, and Venezuela to Free Trade Bloc
On Aug. 29, the presidents of nations making up the Andean Community met in Lima, Peru. The Andean Community is made up of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. According to Reuters, the presidents of member states expressed their desire for Chile, Argentina, and Venezuela to join the group; this is occurring in a time where many South American nations are once again electing left-wing presidents.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro commented on the three nations’ possible integration to the bloc. Reuters reports that Petro views integrating Chile, Argentina, and Venezuela as integral for amplifying the voice of South America in the global economy. Petro became Colombia’s new president earlier in August and his remarks to the Andean Community on August 29 were his first on an international tour.
The presidents met in Lima, Peru on Monday at a time when Ecuador is passing on the bloc’s presidency to Peru. Misión Verdad reports, South America’s shift towards leftist governments plays a key role in the desire to expand the Andean community. In 2020, leftist presidents assumed power in Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Chile. Ecuador was the only exception to South America’s revival of progressive presidents, with President Guillermo Lasso being a Conservative banker and an outlier in the group.
Chile and Venezuela were once a part of the Andean Community, while Argentina was never a member according to the Buenos Aires Times. In the early 2000s, Venezuela left the Andean Community under socialist President Hugo Chávez. Chile, on the other hand, was a founding member of the bloc, but left in 1976 during the right-wing military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, according to Euronews.
According to Reuters, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo underscored the value of Chile and Venezuela rejoining the bloc. In addition to discussing the economic benefits, Castillo further proposed to expand sub-regional integration through calling upon the region’s shared heritage.
With Peru now taking over the bloc’s presidency, Castillo will have the power to influence decision making on topics such as economic development, trade, interregional strengthening, energy projects, solutions for the effects of climate change in the region, and will lead the process to better the quality of life of the Andean Community, Peruvian news outlet Andina reports.