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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

Sustaining global solidarity after Gaza
In South America, serious pressure is building against the Israel-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement (FTA), threatening to derail it entirely. South American social movements, who have years of experience fighting against free trade, have integrated Palestine solidarity into their general work.
Mercosur “is virtually fractured” Uruguay admits openly
Mercosur presidential summit next week in Brazil has on the table an agenda of several highly sensitive issues that could deepen the rift between senior members Argentina and Brazil and junior members Paraguay and Uruguay, according to Uruguayan parliamentary sources.
Argentina’s protectionist policies alienate Mercosur partners
As was anticipated Mercosur senior members Argentina and Brazil proposed Friday an increase of the common external tariff, (AEC) for certain products, and as was expected junior members Uruguay and Paraguay rejected the idea.
MERCOSUR Far from Expectations, Uruguay FM
MERCOSUR "is barely surviving or far from the expectations for which it was created," said Uruguayan Foreign Minister, Gonzalo Fernandez, in declarations today to the weekly magazine Busqueda.
Saved by Diversification
South America’s tendency towards trade diversification over the past few years may spare the region the worst repercussions from the U.S. financial crisis, unlike Mexico, which will definitely feel the effects, as its northern neighbour absorbs a majority of its exports, say experts.
Uruguay criticizes Mercosur tolerance of export taxes
Uruguay’s Economy minister Danilo Astori criticized export taxes and complained the fact Mercosur has allowed Argentina to apply them when “we all know this is a simple manipulation of the economy” which also has political effects.
The politicization of Mercosur: With a divided past, is there hope for a united future?
Today the leaders of Mercosur are convening in Tucumán, Argentina, for their semi-annual conference. San Miguel de Tucumán was the site of Argentine independence from Spain in 1816. Mercosur should take advantage of the historic significance of this site and use this meeting to redefine itself independently from other regional integration schemes and trade blocs.
Trade Accord Boosts Latin America Ties
While acrimony persists over trade talks with the European Union (EU), the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) has had a breakthrough with bilateral negotiations with the Latin American trade bloc Mercosur.
MERCOSUR presidents meet today
Backed by values of sovereignty and integration, presidents of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) member countries meet Tuesday in this city, 186 miles northeast of Buenos Aires.
Mercosur signs trade deals with SACU, Turkey, Jordan
Leaders of the South American trade bloc Mercosur meeting at a summit in Argentina have signed trade agreements with the Southern African Customs Union, as well as with Turkey and Jordan.


    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)