President Jair Bolsonaro (without a party) and Uruguayan leader Luis Lacalle Pou defended this Wednesday (3) changes to the rules of Mercosur (3) so that countries have more freedom to negotiate with countries outside the bloc.
The two leaders, who had lunch at the Palácio da Alvorada in Brasília, also announced that the leaders of the four Mercosur members intended to meet at the end of March, in the town of Foz do Iguaçu (PR).
If confirmed, it will be the first face-to-face meeting between Bolsonaro and Argentine President Peronist Alberto Fernández, with whom the Brazilian has played in critical exchanges in the past.
Lacalle Pou made a quick visit to Brazil on Wednesday, during his first international engagement since taking office in March 2020.
Bolsonaro and the Uruguayan defended the relaxation of Mercosur, a demand by the two administrations that has come up against Argentina’s most protectionist bias.
“Uruguay is one of our partners, it is an important country and is part of Mercosur. We also talked about the possibility of making its business with other countries more flexible for each country,” Bolsonaro said.
“We belong to Mercosur, we are going to complete 30 years of this association – and like any association, it is necessary to review and analyze it. The next step in this modern world is flexibility, so that every country, even if it belongs [ao Mercosul], can go ahead, ”said Lacalle Pou.
Mercosur is a regional integration initiative which prohibits its members from individually negotiating trade treaties with third countries.
This limitation is criticized both by the governments of Bolsonaro and Uruguay, who see it as an obstacle to the integration of the two economies into the world market.
The bloc currently has free trade agreements with Egypt and Israel. An agreement with the European Union, negotiated for around 20 years, was concluded in 2019. However, it is still under legal review and its implementation depends on the approval of EU bodies and partners of the EU. Mercosur.
Today, the main obstacle to the so-called flexibility of Mercosur is Argentina, which has adopted protectionist policies.
The authorization for countries to negotiate independently is not the only point opposed to the governments of Brazil and Argentina.
The economic team of Minister Paulo Guedes and Itamaraty is trying to advance the process of revising the TEC (Common External Tariff), an import tax shared by the four members of the bloc. But the Argentine government considers the Brazilian proposals too radical.
After months of criticism of Peronism by Bolsonaro in Argentina, tensions between the governments of the two countries have recently subsided.
Admiral Flávio Viana Rocha, who commands the Plateau Strategic Affairs Secretariat, traveled to Buenos Aires at the end of January where he met President Fernández.
A few days later, Argentina’s Ambassador to Brazil Daniel Scioli met with Bolsonaro and stressed that the Brazilian leader was predisposed to attend the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Mercosur.
“[Bolsonaro] underlined his predisposition to be present at the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Mercosur, under the chairmanship of Alberto Fernández ”, he wrote.