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The Pacific Alliance: Pivoting to Asia

Americas Society / Council of the Americas

May 22, 2013


(Image: AP Photo)

Formed in June 2012, the Pacific Alliance represents 215 million people and 39 percent of Latin America’s GDP, making the bloc the ninth largest economy in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund. It includes Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, which all have free trade agreements with each other and are responsible for half of the foreign trade in the region. Currently, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Japan, New Zealand, Panama, Spain, and Uruguay are observers.

The Pacific Alliance represents a coalition centered on open markets, free trade, economic integration, and foreign investment, with a clear orientation to expanding trade to Asia. The bloc received 42 percent of all Asian investment from 2003 to 2012. According to the World Trade Organization, the countries of the Pacific Alliance exported about $445 billion in 2010, almost 60 percent more than Southern Common Market bloc countries exported in the same year.

The Americas Society/Council of the Americas and the Pacific Alliance members’ trade and investment promotion agencies—ProMéxico, ProExport Colombia, PromPeru, and ProChile— held a public panel discussion with renowned experts on the future of the trade bloc. Coinciding with the date of our event, the next Pacific Alliance presidential summit took place in Cali, Colombia on May 23.

Panel: The Future of the Pacific Alliance

  1. What is the future of the Pacific Alliance?
  2. How can the regional private sector take advantage of the alliance?
  3. What is the role of the Consejo Empresarial Alianza del Pacífico?
  4. How likely are Costa Rica and Panama to join as members?
  5. How can the Alliance generate more Asian investment?


  • Amb. Carlos Urrutia, Colombian Ambassador to the U.S.
  • Barbara Kotschwar, Research Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics and Co-Author of  “The Next Big Thing? The Trans Pacific Partnership and Latin America,”  in Americas Quarterly
  • Chris Ryan, CEO, Lakeland Industries
  • Sidney N. Weiss, Attorney, Customs and International Trade Issues
  • Eric Farnsworth, Vice President, Council of the Americas and the Americas Society (Moderator)

Event Information: Andres Sada | | 212-277-8369
COA Corporate Membership Information: Monica Vieira | | 1-212-277-8344
Press Inquiries: Adriana La Rotta | | 1-212-277-8384


Eric Farnsworth

Vice President, COA, Washington D.C. Office

Eric Farnsworth is vice president of the Council of the Americas and Americas Society, heading the Washington, DC, office since 2003. The organization is the leading voice on the hemisphere, where the public and private sectors meet to discuss and promote an agenda based on democratic governance, open markets, and the rule of law. He is a recognized expert on hemispheric affairs and U.S. foreign and trade policy, having given congressional testimony numerous times.

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Barbara Kotschwar

Research Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

Barbara Kotschwar has been associated with the Peterson Institute for International Economics since 2007, focusing on trade, investment, and regional integration. Recent projects include US-Egypt commercial relations, comparative analyses of Latin American experiences with free trade agreements, and an assessment of Mexico’s economy. Kotschwar is also adjunct professor of Latin American studies and economics at Georgetown University.

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Christopher J. Ryan

Chief Executive Officer, Lakeland

Christopher J. Ryan has served as Lakeland’s chief executive officer and president since November 2003, secretary since April 1991, and a director since May 1986. He was executive vice president of finance from May 1986 until becoming president in November 2003. Ryan also worked as a corporate finance partner at Furman Selz Mager Dietz & Birney, senior vice president of corporate finance at Laidlaw Adams & Peck, Inc., managing-corporate finance director of Brean Murray Foster Securities, Inc.

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Carlos Urrutia

Ambassador of Colombia to the United States

Carlos Urrutia is the Ambassador of Colombia to the United States. He also currently serves as a panel member on the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes’ Panel of Arbitrators. Previously, Urrutia worked at Brigard & Urrutia from 1977 to 2012, where he served as managing partner from 1999 to 2012. Prior to this position, he served as secretary general of the governorship of the Department of Cundinamarca from 1975 to 1977.

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Sidney N. Weiss

Attorney, Customs and International Trade Issues

Sidney N. Weiss is a New York attorney specializing in customs and international trade issues. He is a member of the California and New York Bars. Weiss represents foreign clients doing business with the United States, and United States companies doing business abroad. He is the past president of the Customs and International Bar Association, the largest association of customs and international trade lawyers in the United States.

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Video - The Pacific Alliance: Pivoting to Asia

May 22, 2013

An expert panel discussed the future of the trade bloc a day before presidents met at a Pacific Alliance summit....

Video: Trans-Pacific Partnership - A Western Hemisphere View

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COA hosted a discussion of the Western Hemisphere view of the TPP, and how each country can benefit from this emerging free trade pact while securing their own national trade interests....