Pacific Alliance trade bloc to liberalize trade after Chile approval

(L-R) Finance Ministers Mauricio Cardenas of Colombia, Alonso Segura of Peru, Luis Videgaray of Mexico and Rodrigo Valdes of Chiles pose for a picture after a meeting of the "Alianza del Pacifico" (Pacific Alliance) at the 2015 IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings in Lima, Peru, October 9, 2015. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile’s Senate approved the last major hurdle so that the Pacific Alliance trade bloc that it shares with members Colombia, Mexico and Peru can reduce tariffs to 0 percent on 92 percent of commerce.

“This decision by the Senate is important for the implementation of Chile’s commitments under the Pacific Alliance,” said Andres Rebolledo, head of the Chilean foreign ministry’s economic relations department (Direcon).

“There is a lot of room for intraregional trade to grow, but we also know this is a great opportunity to reach out together to the most dynamic regions of the world, such as Asia-Pacific,” added Rebolledo.

Chile was the last member-nation that needed its Congress to approve the bloc’s so-called “additional protocol” to liberalize 92 percent of trade between the four countries.

With this approval, the protocol is expected to take effect within the next three months, said Direcon.

The Pacific Alliance is one of two large trade blocs in Latin America. Its member nations have moved to reduce trade tariffs between them since forming the bloc in 2011.

Mercosur, a customs union comprising the more protectionist governments of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela and others, has liberalized trade more slowly.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Lisa Shumaker