Chile's insertion in the Community of Andean Nations, CAN (Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela) is rather complicated because Chile's external tariffs are far lower than the rest of those countries, said Chilean president Ricardo Lagos.
"If integration means a common external tariff, it will be very difficult, because Chile has a very low external tariff", insisted President Lagos who is currently in Cuzco, Peru for the signing of the South American Community of Nations.
"Chile has opened to the world. Chile competes with the world", said Mr. Lagos in direct reference to the trade agreements signed with United States, European Union, Korea, Canada, Mexico with "average tariff below 3%". "Nobody can come and tell Chile: look to become a member of our club you must raise tariffs, because the world in travelling in the opposite direction".
During an extraordinary meeting of the Andean Community, it was agreed that Chile could act as an observer of the group to which it belonged from 1969 to 1976, when it was known as the Andean Pact.
As to the III South American summit with the participation of twelve countries, which will see the founding of a new South American political and economic block including Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), the Andean Community plus Chile, Surinam and Guyana, President Lagos adopted a pragmatic attitude.
The South American union must "land" in practical issues such as promoting physical infrastructure, financial coordination and a regional energy grid that "enables to combine the different rich resources of the several country members".