Spotlight on Pacific Alliance trade bloc casts unflattering light on Mercosur

“While Pacific Alliance thrives, Mercosur withers,” headlines a recent Andres Oppenheimer opinion piece in the Miami Herald.

The Pacific Alliance’s May 23 Cali summit, capped by an agreement to eliminate tariffs on 90% of its four members’ merchandise trade (covered by our blog here), has prompted comparisons of the brand-new Latin American trade bloc with the decades-old Mercosur.

While Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru officially launched their Pacific Alliance last year, the southern common market wrangled over politics, suspending founding member Paraguay and admitting Venezuela (the other Mercosur members are Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay). While trade within the Pacific Alliance grew 1.3% in 2012, trade within Mercosur contracted 9.4%, according to UN Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) figures cited by Oppenheimer.

The Economist sees a continental divide between the two blocs, with the market-led Pacific Alliance lined up against the more statist Mercosur economies. The Financial Times BeyondBRICS blog thinks the “Pacific Pumas” of the Alliance are ready to run with the tigers of Asia.

All agree that it’s too soon to call the Pacific Alliance an unqualified success – or count out Mercosur. But it’s clear that advocates for trade liberalization are rooting for the Alliance’s approach to prove out.

A good way to follow what happens next is with Datamyne’s Latin America data, which covers the trade of all the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur members (as well as eight other Central and South American countries – learn more here).

Here’s our comparison by value of the two blocs’ import-export commerce in 2012:

Mercosur & Pacific Alliance Trade 2012 Bar Chart

Here are the numbers underlying the bar graph:

Value of Mercosur & Pacific Alliance Import-Export Trade 2012 Table

We’ve used our data to put together two “Quick Look” reports, one on the Pacific Alliance and one on Mercosur, covering the member countries’ top trade partners, share of trade (comparing US, China, EU, Mercosur, and the Alliance), top imports and exports by value.

To download your free pdf copy of a Quick Look @ Mercosur Trade in 2012 click here.

To download a Quick Look @ Pacific Alliance Trade in 2012 click here.

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