International association of Latin American countries originally dedicated to improving its members' economic well-being through free trade. At its founding in 1960 LAFTA included Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay; by 1970 Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Bolivia had joined. The organization aimed to remove all trade barriers over 12 years, but its members' geographic and economic diversity made that goal impossible. LAFTA was superseded in 1980 by the LAIA, which established bilateral trading agreements between members, which were divided into three groups according to their level of economic development. Cuba was admitted with observer status in 1986, and it became a full member in 1999. Seealso Inter-American Development Bank.
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