A new study on Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile: The Pumas of the Pacific Alliance
Presenting “The Pacific Pumas”, a new study about the advancements and opportunities of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile:
The Puma: A powerful, fast, agile, lean and stealthy animal. Efficient and resourceful, this New World cat can thrive in mountainous highlands and humid rainforests.
It is a fitting mascot for the emergence of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile.
These four countries along Latin America’s west coast have taken great strides in recent years, and they are poised to emerge as regional leaders. Like the animal, these Pacific Pumas are comfortable operating quietly, away from the spotlight.
But their positive momentum is difficult to ignore.
United in the Pacific Alliance, the Pumas represent more than 200 million people with a US$2.22 trillion GDP; their combined global trade accounts for half of the Latin American total, while the depth and breadth of their free-trade agreements have positioned them to increase commerce with Europe, the US and Asia.
This is the story of the advancement of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile—the Pacific Pumas—and of the opportunities they have moving forward.
Prepared to Pounce?
What the Pacific Pumas do with that opportunity remains to be seen.
Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile have made noteworthy macroeconomic and democratic advancements in the 21st century. They have created a solid foundation for development precisely as the greater Pacific stands to emerge as a focal point of global growth.
That the four countries have shared this “awakening” gives them the opportunity to join forces, exponentially increasing the group’s global impact and potential.
Yet persistent shortcomings could still derail this progress. Systemic corruption, violence, commodity reliance, and inequality are not exactly new phenomena for the four countries.
Will the Pacific Pumas finally be able to exorcise these demons? Or are the trends outlined in the study simply symptomatic of a boom period, anticipating an eventual bust—a cycle so familiar in Latin America?
One thing is clear: The Pacific Pumas do have an opportunity.
They have an opportunity to entrench stable macroeconomic systems; to pursue levelheaded democratic governance; to eradicate extreme poverty; the opportunity to link into international trade networks and to prove that globalization can be a tool to address inequality.
United in the Pacific Alliance, the Pumas have the opportunity to emerge as regional leaders and flag bearers for Latin American integration; they have the opportunity to join a 21st century trans-Atlantic community that combines the experience and know-how of the US and EU with the growth potential of emerging markets.
In a world that could see increased regionalism, the Pumas have the opportunity to be strategic partners to the United States, Europe and East Asia.
How the Pumas capitalize on this opportunity cannot necessarily be measured by any given year’s growth statistics.
Similarly, protests in Chile, setbacks in the Colombian peace process, drug violence in Mexico or falling copper prices in Peru do not necessarily portend a dream deferred. In many cases, these are natural tensions inherent to maturing emerging markets.
Ultimately, the Pumas’ success should be measured in terms of creating and maintaining institutions worthy of the developed world while sustaining the growth potential and dynamism of emerging markets.
Puma governments must tackle difficult reforms, even at the cost of some short-term growth, in order to remove long-term bottlenecks on their economies. In terms of regional leadership, the Pumas’ success should not be based on how many countries join the Pacific Alliance, but rather the depth and breadth of Alliance integration.
In terms of global linkages, the Pumas must demonstrate an ability to turn free trade agreements on paper into more and better jobs in practice.
Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile do not need to be perfect, nor will they be. But if they can continue their positive momentum, they can create a new model of development in Latin America. And if they can do that, then these Pacific Pumas may well run with the Tigers of the East.
On March 13, the paper was presented on a panel with
Harold W. Forsyth, Ambassador, Peru
Eduardo Medina Mora, Ambassador, Mexico
Luis Carlos Villegas, Ambassador, Colombia
Mauricio Hurtado, Chargé d’Affaires, Chile
Antoni Estevadeordal, Manager, IADB
Eric Farnsworth, Vice President, Council of the Americas
You can find a video of the event HERE
You can check out Se Mancha’s evolving coverage of the Pumas HERE