Photo via Casa Rosada

President Mauricio Macri participated in the World Economic Forum on Latin America today and took the opportunity to encourage cooperation between the regional trade blocs Mercosur, of which Argentine is a part, and the Pacific Alliance, which comprises Colombia, among other countries.

Macri also announced that Argentina will host the regional forum in April 2017. The World Economic Forum on Latin America is the regional version of the international gathering between governments and private companies that was held in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year. Macri’s presence in Switzerland this year marked the first time since 2003 that Argentina was represented at the annual forum. Today, Macri highlighted Argentina’s new “commitment to participating in the 21st century”:

“In the first six months of our administration, we left populism behind and [the time when] investment was neglected. It was a period in which we were excluded from the world and from which we have begun to escape,” Macri said.

He also mentioned that there will be a “mini Davos” this September at the Kirchner Cultural Center attended by 2,000 businessmen.

Macri arrived on Tuesday to Colombia to visit Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. This is his first state visit to the country since taking office as well as his first Latin American World Economic Forum.

Why is Macri’s first state visit to Colombia important? The meetings between Santos and Macri and the World Economic Forum have been interpreted as progress not only on the bilateral front but also as a step forward in strengthening ties with the Pacific Alliance, into which Argentina was recently accepted as an observer state. Macri has explicitly said he hopes the Alliance will cooperate and unite with Mercosur — the economic trade bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela — in order to create a joint economic trade agreement strategy.

“Mercosur must be open to work with other regional blocks such as the Pacific Alliance. We believe America must turn into a major zone of peace and integration,” said Macri at the Colombian presidential palace yesterday.

On the bilateral front, Argentina and Colombia signed several commercial agreements, specifically regarding logistics, transportation and the preservation of ports as well as rural and agricultural development.

The Copa América, the football tournament currently being played in the US, came up as an ice breaker for Santos and Macri: should both national teams go through to the final, they promised to watch the match together.