Mercosur Summit ends without agreement on regional trade, pushes for FTA with EU
MONTEVIDEO, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) — The Common Market of the South (Mercosur) summit finished Tuesday with few results achieved on regional trade issues but with vows to push for a free trade agreement with the European Union (EU).
At the 38th Summit of Mercosur, member countries of the bloc, formed by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, failed to reach a consensus on the elimination of the current double charge of the common external tariff (AEC). This means that any product that enters any member country of the trade block must be subjected to another tariff if it is transferred to another member country.
However, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, who now holds the rotatory presidency of Mercosur, said during the summit that she would relaunch the negotiations with the EU to reach a commercial agreement.
The bloc also issued a statement condemning the elections held on Nov. 29 in Honduras, as it considered them "illegitimate" for having been held under a de facto government.
Meanwhile, the bloc hailed the recent elections held in Boliviaand Uruguay: Bolivian President Evo Morales was reelected, and Jose Mujica won Uruguay’s presidency.
Mercosur is made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Venezuela in the process of incorporation. Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile are associate members of the bloc.
FEW INTERNAL AGREEMENTS REACHED
Uruguay’s Foreign Minister Pedro Vaz said that during the rotatory presidency held by his country there was "an effort to close" the AEC contracts, which was not achieved.
However, there were "advances, which will allow to reach an agreement as soon as possible" to eliminate the AEC, Vaz added.
There were also improvements on such programs as the Fund for the Structural Convergence of Mercosur (Focem) to assist the smallest members of the bloc, reduce asymmetries as well as strengthen the institutions of Mercosur, which was founded in 1991,Vaz continued.
Fernando Lugo, president of Paraguay, another small economy similar to Uruguay’s, said it was necessary "to retake a more ambitious strengthening agenda" to help the economies overcome protectionism.
According to Lugo, a regional energy integration with advantages in economic aspects and energy security for all countries would strengthen the southern cone of the American continent, making Mercosur a pole with cohesion.
Venezuela’s adhesion resolution has been pending since 2005, but Chavez said his country would continue working hard for its integration either as full member of Mercosur or as associate member.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the senate of his country would ratify the adhesion, but Paraguay’s resolution was still pending.
AGREEMENT WITH EU IS THE GOAL
After receiving the rotating presidency from Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez at the summit, Fernandez said she would restart the negotiations with the EU to reach a commercial agreement.
During the presidency held by Uruguay, the negotiations with the EU were retaken after two years in stalemate.
According to Fernandez, the aim was "to close the things agreed on" and to move ahead toward the difficult issues.
"We have agreements on the integration and cooperation aspects. What we lack are agreements on services, governmental purchases and the most thorny aspect is the commercial one," Fernandez said.
According to Fernandez, among the most difficult aspects are the agriculture subsidies of the EU and the industrial issue of the South American countries.
HONDURAS’ ELECTIONS CONDEMNED
All member countries of the Mercosur rejected the recent elections of Honduras and signed a strong statement condemning the vote.
According to the statement, Mercosur did not recognize the Nov.29 elections held in Honduras and condemned the June 28 coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.
The countries of Mercosur "consider unacceptable the grave violations of the human rights and liberties of the Honduran people.
"As President Zelaya has not been restored to the position to which he was democratically elected, we express total and full disavowal of the election" held in Honduras, the statement said.
According to Mercosur, those elections occurred "in an environment of unconstitutionality and illegality, representing a strong strike to the democratic values of Latin America and the Caribbean."