Argentina and Chile agreed to organize a major Mercosur, Pacific Alliance trade blocks’ meeting during the first half of 2017. Last Friday Chilean president Michelle Bachelet and her cabinet were in Buenos Aires with peers Mauricio Macri and ministers as part of an agenda of regular meetings to address a joint agenda.

Bachelet said that Chile is very interested in seeing Mercosur and Argentina become part of the Pacific Alliance after the meeting in Buenos Aires with Macri. The Foreign ministers have agreed that during the Alliance pro tempore chair of Chile, hopefully during the first half of next year we can hold this decisive meeting.

Macri was more convincing and underlined that the two blocks meeting will take place during the first half of 2017. Argentina is going to hold the meeting because they are lucky enough to have Argentina as chair of Mercosur since this month, and the fact is that sooner or later the two blocks will have to converge as soon as possible.

In June, Argentina was granted observer status to the market-friendly group, which includes Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Argentine President Mauricio Macri, who came to power a year ago pledging to open Argentina’s economy after more than a decade of populist and protectionist policies, has sought closer ties to the bloc.

Argentina took hold of the Mercosur pro tempore chair last week and for the next six months. Argentina is a founding member of Mercosur whose other members are Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, plus Venezuela suspended (on human rights and trade concerns), and Bolivia in the process of incorporation.

Chile this year ratified an agreement reducing tariffs to 0% on 92% of commerce between the four countries in the Pacific Alliance.

Macri has been a strong sponsor of market-friendly policies both domestically and internationally and has anticipated that with Argentina in the Mercosur chair the block will attempt closer links with other blocks, such as the Pacific Alliance, continue with discussions with the European Union, United States and Asian countries.