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Mercosur, or the Southern Common Market, is a customs union between Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. It was originally set up in 1991. Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru have associate member status. Bolivia may be incorporated as a full member soon. In June 2006, Venezuela signed on as a full Mercosur member, although its membership still has to be ratified by the parliament of Paraguay.

As an instrument of subregional integration, Mercosur has been used to carry out important harmonization processes between the member states in areas such as intellectual property, agricultural policy and labour law. But the group is also plagued by internal conflicts.

Mercosur as a bloc is currently negotiating bilateral free trade agreements with other blocs such as CARICOM, the Andean Community, European Union, and the Gulf Cooperation Council. It is also seeking one with the Dominican Republic.

Mercosur signed an FTA with Israel in December 2007 (which entered into force in September 2011) and another with Palestine in December 2011 after the four members recognised its statehood.

The possibility of Uruguay’s “breaking away” from Mercosur to sign its own FTA with the United States has created enormous tension within the group (not to mention within Uruguay). A similar situation exists with Paraguay.

last update: May 2012

Argentina urges Mercosur to sign FTA with Vietnam and Indonesia
Argentine Foreign Minister Diana Mondino has urged the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) to be more flexible in negotiations and seek free trade agreements with Vietnam and Indonesia.
Uruguay supports Việt Nam’s negotiations of FTA with Mercosur: Official
Uruguay’s foreign minister emphasised that the country will work closely with the Vietnamese Embassy to promote stronger and more comprehensive relations between the two countries in the coming time.
Diana Mondino: Mercosur must open up to ‘agreements with other countries’
Argentina’s Foreign Minister Diana Mondino calls for modernisation of Mercosur rules and backs push for free-trade deal with China.
EFTA euro nations eye Mercosur deal before year-end
Parliamentary representatives from European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) stop in Buenos Aires as part of regional tour focusing on efforts to secure free-trade deal with the Mercosur bloc.
Brazil’s Lula, Japan’s Kishida discuss potential Mercosur trade deal
Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva discussed with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida a potential trade deal between Japan and South American bloc Mercosur, the Brazilian government said.
Mercosur and UAE to begin trade negotiations in the first half of next year
Brazil currently the chair of Mercosur has opened a consultation period until December 18 on a possible trade agreement between the South American block and the United Arab Emirates.
Vietnam interested in trade deal with Mercosur, says Brazil’s Lula
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said that Vietnam has expressed interest in a trade deal with the Mercosur bloc, adding he will bring the topic up for discussion with those countries.
Lula says Mercosur eyeing fresh trade deals, increased regional commerce
Brazilian President wants the Mercosur trade bloc to advance in talks for deals with Canada, South Korea and Singapore, while aiming to increase commerce with other countries in Latin America and Asia.
Mercosur, Canada to resume trade deal talks
Negotiations for an agreement between Mercosur and Canada to eliminate tariffs on industrial and agricultural goods, services, intellectual property, and government purchases are to resume after more than three years.
The potential China-Uruguay trade deal risks fracturing Mercosur
Montevideo is pushing ahead with FTA talks with China – ignoring warnings from neighbors about possible legal and trade action if Uruguay negotiates outside the bloc.


    Mercado Común del Sur (MERCOSUR) is a common market between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.
  • MERCOSUR website
    Official website of MERCOSUR, a common market between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay (in Portuguese and Spanish)