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Venezuela will help Mercosur become continental block

MercoPress, Uruguay

Venezuela will help Mercosur become continental block

26 March 2008

Mercosur with Venezuela included has “the potential of becoming a trade block of the whole of South America” said Brazilian Foreign Affairs minister Ceslo Amorim who also insisted that keeping out of the Washington inspired Free Trade Area of the Americas, FTAA, “has been positive”.

“With the incorporation of Venezuela, Mercosur potential is to become the common market or at the least the integration process for the whole of South America”, underlined Amorim in an interview with Venezuelan and Brazilian television.

Venezeulan president Hugo Chavez begins Wednesday an official visit to Brazil where he will be meeting with his counterpart Lula da Silva to discuss industrial and agricultural cooperation.

Regarding FTAA Amorim argued “it was better for Brazil not to join”, because if not “we would have suffered the impact of the home and credit crisis in United States”.

“Renowned US economists have stated that one of the reasons why Brazil has become less susceptible to the current crisis in the world is because we diversified our foreign trade. If we had joined FTAA, trade would have concentrated, particularly regarding United States, and we would have also become far more vulnerable in balance of payments terms”.

But Amorim also recalled that Venezuela’s inclusion in Mercosur has been ratified by the congresses of Uruguay and Argentina, but the decision is pending in the legislative branches of Brazil and Paraguay.

Nevertheless he pointed out that Brazilian businessmen have no motives to complain about making deals and investing in Venezuela in spite of the “anti capitalist rhetoric” from President Chavez.

Brazilian companies have obtained significant public works contracts in Venezuela and exporters are shipping considerable volumes of food and other staples which are helping the President Chavez administration overcome an acute shortage in groceries and supermarkets stalls.

When asked if Venezuela’s incorporation to Mercosur could help neutralize the influence of President Chavez in the region, Amorim said Brazil “could have a positive influence but under no circumstances do we want to neutralize anybody”.

Lula da Silva main advisor Marco Aurelio Garcia who helped prepare the agenda for the summit with Chavez said the two leaders will be talking about industrial and agriculture cooperation but also other common issues such as energy, education and the Amazon region.

“Brazil wants to cooperate to help Venezuela rapidly become self sufficient in food production”, said Marco Aurelio who added that “the Venezuelan people now have higher incomes and greater access to markets”.

Marco Aurelio hailed the international court ruling that favored Venezuela’s government owned oil corporation PDVSA following a demand from Exxon Mobil.

“It’s a victory for all energy producers in Latinamerica. The world has set its eyes on our region because we’re an important source of gas, petroleum and other fuels”, said Marco Aurelio.

“The world will need a lot of energy and we have quite a bit so defense of our sovereignty is going to become an important task in the coming years”, anticipated President Lula da Silva’s main political advisor.