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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

Venezuela gains Mercosur entry, deepening relations
Venezuela today gained entry into the South American trade group Mercosur, a move pursued by President Hugo Chavez to help strengthen regional agreements and thwart a US-sponsored accord for the hemisphere.
Fox wants Mexico in the Mercosur in 2006
On the final day of the 4th Summit of the Americas, in Mar del Plata, Argentina, the president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, said that he is negotiating his country’s entry into the Mercosur in the middle of next year.
Experts question whether Arabs, S. Americans can deliver alternative to US domination
South American and Arab leaders showed the US this week that they can be a force to be reckoned with - at least when it comes to talking tough. But whether they will be able to fulfill their pledges hinges on their ability to look beyond domestic agendas and resist American efforts to lure them away with lucrative bilateral trade deals.
Mercosur, GCC sign free trade zone frame agreement
The signing of the agreement is regarded as the first concrete fruit of the South American-Arab summit taking place in Brasilia this week.


    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)