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South American Leaders Meet to Create Regional Trade Bloc

Presidents and officials from 12 South American countries have launched a plan to create a regional trade bloc modeled after the European Union.

Representatives held a summit Wednesday in the city of Cuzco, Peru, to create the South American Community of Nations.

The trade bloc will represent about 360 million people. It is expected to have a gross domestic product of around $1 trillion, with exports that top $180 billion.

The new economic pact will merge the Mercosur trade bloc of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil with the Andean Community of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. Chile, Suriname and Guyana will also join.

The presidents of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Ecuador chose not to attend the summit, but instead sent representatives.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.