Latin American and Caribbean regional organisations

The Pacific Alliance

The Pacific Alliance was initiated in 2011 and formalised by a framework agreement in 2012. Its members – Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia – have outward-oriented trade liberalising policies. The Alliance aims to achieve the free movement of goods, services, capital and people among members. Australia became an observer in November 2012 and attended the May 2013 Summit held in Cali, Colombia, the June 2014 Summit in Punta Mita, Mexico, the June 2015 Summit in Paracas, Peru and the June 2016 Summit in Puerto Varas, Chile, and the June 2017 Summit held in Cali, Colombia and the July 2018 Summit held in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

A map of the world listing the 52 observer states of the Pacific Alliance.

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The 52 observers are Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay.

In June 2017, Australia launched free trade agreement negotiations with the Pacific Alliance, one of the first countries to do so. Australia also works with the Pacific Alliance in the areas of environment, engaging with the Asia-Pacific and in education and training. Australia attended the inaugural Pacific Alliance Education Forum in Lima, Peru, in May 2016 and supported a Pacific Alliance cooperation project – "TVET in Benchmarking for Transport and Logistics Sector". In July 2017, Australia also attended the inaugural Pacific Alliance Fisheries Network meeting in Lima.

Mercosur

Mercosur is a trade bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela (currently suspended). Bolivia is going through the ratification process to become a full member. Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname are Associate Members. Mexico is an observer. Mercosur was founded in 1991. Australia and New Zealand have a formal consultation mechanism – CER-Mercosur. The last CER-Mercosur consultations took place in May 2017. Since November 2014, Mercosur has been working on options for convergence with the Pacific Alliance.

The Central American Integration System (SICA)

The Central American Integration System (SICA) was formally established in 1991. Australia became an observer in 2011. Since joining, Australia has attended summits annually since 2011.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

The Caribbean states have made significant efforts to integrate their economies and increase their cohesiveness in multilateral organisations.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is the peak regional organisation. It comprises 15 members and is predominately the English-speaking Caribbean plus Suriname and Haiti. CARICOM focuses on enhancing greater regional integration and establishment of a comprehensive single market economy.

Other key regional institutions include the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The ACS represents 25 members of the Greater Caribbean, including some Central and South American countries. It has the broad aims of promoting regional cooperation and addressing regional issues such as sustainable tourism including preservation of the Caribbean Sea, disaster management, transport and trade. The OECS is a sub-regional grouping of six eastern Caribbean countries and three UK dependent territories and is dedicated to economic integration and greater foreign policy harmonisation among members, protection of human and legal rights, and the promotion of good governance.

Many Caribbean countries are also members of the network of Small Island Developing States, an initiative of the United Nations Development Program that assists with technical assistance and advice in areas including climate change adaptation and management of natural resources.

Forum for East Asia and Latin American Cooperation (FEALAC)

Forum for East Asia and Latin American Cooperation (FEALAC) is the only formal dialogue between countries in Latin America and East Asia. It draws together 36 countries from East Asia and Latin America aiming to strengthen the relationship between the two regions. It involves in-principle biennial Foreign Ministers’ meetings as well as annual Senior Officials and Working Group meetings. Four Working Groups on Socio-Political Cooperation and Sustainable Development; Culture, Youth, Gender and Sports; Science, Technology, Innovation and Education; and Trade, Investment, Tourism and MSMEs operate to build collaboration across these thematic areas.

Australia is a founding member of FEALAC, the first time Australia was accepted as a member in the Asia region. Australia has participated in FEALAC Foreign Ministers' and Senior Officials Meetings since FEALAC's inception in 1998.

The Organization of American States

The Organization of American States (OAS) was founded in 1948. It has a permanent secretariat in Washington and includes all 35 independent states of the Americas. Cuba has been excluded since 1962 and Venezuela has applied to leave.

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was a Mexican initiative announced in 2012. CELAC’s membership is the same as the OAS except that it excludes Canada and the United States and includes Cuba. It has no permanent secretariat and is becoming a vehicle for engagement outside the region. The first CELAC-EU Summit was held in Santiago in January 2013 and the first CELAC-China Forum was held in Beijing in January 2015. Australia met the CELAC Troika in December 2012.

Within the United Nations these countries form the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC).

The Union of South American Nations

The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) Consultative Treaty was signed in 2008, with entry into force in 2011. It includes all 12 independent South American states (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela). Unasur's Secretariat is located in Quito, Ecuador. The Union is focused on physical regional integration, including on energy, education, health, environment, infrastructure, security and democracy. Unasur has also sought to encourage dialogue between the government and opposition in Venezuela, with Unasur Secretary General Ernest Sampo leading a delegation, including the foreign ministers of Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador, to Caracas in March 2015.

The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America

The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) was founded in 2004 by Cuba and Venezuela. They were joined by Antigua and Barbuda (2009), Bolivia (2006), Dominica (2008), Ecuador (2009), Grenada (2014), Nicaragua (2007), St Kitts and Nevis (2014), St Lucia (2013) and St Vincent and Grenadines (2007).

Last Updated: 7 November 2019