Chilean president urges tie-up talks between regional trade groups

PUNTA MITA Mexico Fri Jun 20, 2014 2:15pm EDT

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet delivers her annual address at the national congress building in Valparaiso city,northwest of Santiago, May 21, 2014. REUTERS/Eliseo Fernandez

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet delivers her annual address at the national congress building in Valparaiso city,northwest of Santiago, May 21, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Eliseo Fernandez

PUNTA MITA Mexico (Reuters) - Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Friday proposed a September gathering between officials and business leaders from Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance in hopes of creating a tie-up between the two Latin American trade groups.

Speaking alongside Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, Bachelet suggested that foreign ministers from the two blocs should also meet to form a working agreement aimed at developing stronger links.

"I think that beyond the differences, it's perfectly possible in the future to create agreements between the countries of the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur," she said at the official start of the Pacific Alliance summit in the western Mexican coastal state of Nayarit. "It's not just possible, it's necessary."

The Pacific Alliance, created in 2011, is an economic bloc that includes Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Chile, and represents about 35 percent of Latin America's gross domestic product.

The Mercosur bloc includes regional heavyweights Brazil and Argentina, but Chile is only an associate member.

Bachelet, who returned to power in Chile in March, has criticized the previous conservative administration for neglecting relations with South America's more left-leaning countries and said she wants the Pacific Alliance to be more inclusive.

On Thursday, Mexico's stock exchange said it will connect with bourses in Chile, Colombia and Peru by year-end through the Latin American Integrated Market, or MILA, in the latest example of regional integration.

MILA was formed in 2011 to boost market liquidity within the Pacific Alliance trade grouping, and the tie-up aims to create more business for the financial markets in the region.

(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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