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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

Brazil targets Argentina with trade licenses
Brazil on Monday escalated a growing trade fight with Argentina by increasing the bureaucratic obstacles for importing about 10 perishable products including apples, raisins, and potatoes, a senior Brazilian government official told Reuters.
Argentina new imports’ restrictions come into effect; claims from Mercosur
Argentina’s controversial new import restrictions came into effect on Wednesday as part of the legislation on the trading sector which gives the government bureaucracy more powers to control and restrict imports.
PA, Mercosur sign free trade agreement
The Palestinian Authority signed a free trade agreement with the Mercosur trade group Tuesday during the organizations’ presidential summit in Uruguay.
If Venezuela joins the Mercosur economic bloc, will it follow the rules?
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez needs to wait a bit longer for his country’s entry into Mercosur, the Common Market of the South founded in 1991 by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Though the group feels they found a procedural move to get around the opposition of Paraguay’s legislature, the move will take additional time.
Mercosur eyes protectionist steps as trade war looms
Mercosur is expected to sign a free trade agreement with Palestine on the second day of the summit following a similar deal signed with Israel in 2007.
Mercosur is not moving but Uruguay “will not stay put licking its wounds”
Uruguayan president Jose Mujica said that Mercosur “is not moving forward or backwards” but is certainly working much better than the European Union where old experienced nations “made a mess of it”. Nevertheless, Uruguay will not stay put “licking its wounds”, it will look for other trade links.
China builds trade with South America
Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman Saturday urged a boost to the south American country ‘s trade ties with China, saying a free trade agreement (FTA) between Beijing and the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) could be “extraordinary”.
Argentine ratifies trade Mercosur-Israel trade agreement
Argentina ratified this week the free trade agreement reached between Mercosur and Israel, the first to be signed by the South American block with an outer zone party.
Canada interested in closer links with Mercosur announces ‘exploratory talks’
Canada and Mercosur agreed on Friday to hold exploratory talks to strengthen their relationship, Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast said on Friday. Fast is currently in Asunción to promote bilateral trade and investments, and Paraguay currently holds the Mercosur chair.
Humala: Peru not ready for Mercosur
Peruvian President-elect Ollanta Humala has gone on record ruling out an early push for membership of the Mercosur trade bloc for his country’s emerging economy but leaving the door open for a political tie with the group.


    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)