By Michelle Bachelet, Juan Manuel Santos, Ollanta Humala and Enrique Peña Nieto

In Latin America, we have a common history, but we know that our future will be better if we act together to address the shared challenges that emerge in an uncertain global environment.

In the Pacific Alliance, we are working for the free movement of goods, services, capital and people, on the basis of existing trade agreements between member countries, and through cooperation within and outside our agreement. We are coordinating to enhance the growth, economic development and competitiveness of the economies of the member countries of the Alliance, with a view to achieving greater well-being, overcoming inequality and promoting the social inclusion of their inhabitants.

There are fundamental similarities between our countries in economic matters, which facilitates understanding. We have encouraging growth prospects in the region. According to the IMF, the real GDP of the bloc grow at an average annual rate of 4.1%, above the rate for Latin America as a whole (3.1%); Together we constitute the eighth largest economy worldwide. We understand the importance of jointly coping with the dynamics of the international economy and its uncertainties. We know that Asia is an indispensable reference for boosting trade and investment, which is why we are seeking a rapprochement with that region.

The Pacific Alliance achieves what it proposes With pride and satisfaction we note today, five years after its creation, the achievements in key areas such as tariff liberalization, accumulation of origin, trade facilitation and customs cooperation, with beneficial agreements in the areas of services and investment.

The recent entry into force of the Trade Protocol, lifting tariffs on 92% of the goods traded among the four countries, with the goal of ensuring that all products will circulate freely by 2030, is just one example of the steps we are taking to move towards the free movement of goods and services.

On these bases, new opportunities are being opened up for exporters and investors, with a consequent increase in intra-regional economic links and a positive impact on employment.

The world economy, not without difficulties, is divided into macro-regions. The world trades in blocs, as borne out by various existing or ongoing multilateral agreements, such as the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the Asian integration schemes and the Europe-United States free trade project. The integration of our countries is much more than a recommended strategy: it is indispensable and failure to do so is equivalent being left on the sidelines of global economic dynamics.

 By eliminating trade barriers, through the free movement of capital and people, the Pacific Alliance will be consolidated into a complementary instrument to internal efforts to meet the main goal: increase growth, improve employment and reduce poverty and inequality.

The Pacific Alliance transcends its own borders and promotes a dialogue between the countries of the Atlantic and the Pacific, between the AP and Mercosur, ASEAN and APEC in order to increase trade flows and position the region as a whole in relation to the global economy.

Likewise, a firm commitment to free trade creates broad interest in the international community. To date, forty-nine countries from different parts of the world value our initiative and have sent an auspicious signal to our integration project. These are observer countries and countries that have expressed the desire to join and even promote specific cooperation actions. The future of the world is based on understanding and economic, political, social and cultural collaboration. For Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, the future is integration.

Text published in El Universal.mx