Walker San Miguel, Secretary-General, Andean Community (Comunidad Andina, CAN): Interview

Walker San Miguel, Secretary-General, Andean Community (Comunidad Andina, CAN)

Interview: Walker San Miguel

What are the necessary steps towards achieving greater integration among Andean states?

WALKER SAN MIGUEL: In order to achieve greater integration among Andean countries, CAN takes actions that enable the development of member states through specific goals that improve the quality of life of their inhabitants and seek to merge different points of view.

Further Andean integration will require a consolidation of the process of reforming the institution and a more efficient and active general-secretary’s office. Hence the need for the CAN to help its member states take better and more efficient advantage of all the benefits associated with the CAN Free Trade Zone. It is also worth mentioning the efforts carried out by CAN to bring phytosanitary and quality standards up to date to enable member states to further open up their markets. Furthermore, common projects that attract foreign direct investment and help develop tourism and trade in the sub-region are key and can only be carried out with an efficient cooperation strategy.

In regards to energy, the sub-region has abundant resources, which is a necessary condition for regional electric integration. In fact, a new scheme of electric integration will be approved soon, regulating interconnectivity between the West and South American coast nations. Likewise, CAN seeks to establish a common social agenda that tackles the issues associated with migration and Andean identity and culture as a means of contributing to the integral development of Andean citizens. There is still the key challenge of maintaining the relevance of CAN as a part of one of the main processes of integration in the region.

Further coordination with other regional organisations, such as Mercosur and the Union of South American Nations (Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, UNASUR), is equally important. This is why the office of the secretary-general has the mandate of identifying common elements with other regional organisations that enable further convergence, while maintaining each institution’s independence. The office of the secretary-general, together with the pro-tempore Andean presidency, actively participate in meetings related to convergence that are promoted by the secretary-general of UNASUR and that seek cooperation, coordination and synergies with other integration efforts in South America. These meetings help achieve regional integration goals while ensuring adequate use of resources and complementarity of actions.

How could trans-border value chains be established among member states, and what sectors would benefit most from this?

SAN MIGUEL: CAN identifies the importance and potential of establishing trans-border value chains through the design and implementation of activities and systems that improve productivity among micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises. Such activities include courses that train businessmen, producers, traders and distributors to help them improve inclusive value chains, with a special emphasis on eco-friendly and agro-industrial businesses.

Furthermore, the office of the secretary general is implementing the Regional Participative Integration in the Andean Community programme, with financial support from the EU. The goal of the programme is to contribute to the process of regional integration through the consolidation of the necessary conditions for sustainable economic development with the involvement of civil society. The project promotes good governance throughout the Andean Integration System by strengthening the active participation of regional networks of civil society and local administration in socio-economic development initiatives within Border Integration Zones.

Several initiatives are being executed under this framework to strengthen trans-border value chains and food chains among member states for products such as coffee, cacao, fisheries and native potatoes.

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