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Uruguay feels Mercosur is a diplomatic club, still too distant from the people.

Uruguay feels Mercosur is a diplomatic club, still too distant from the people.

Almagro also demanded that the rulings from Mercosur Arbitration Tribunal be complied as a way of having “people feel closer to the group and integration”. He also criticized the “many exceptions and drillings” of the common external tariff and the need to make more expedient sanitary and phytosanitary regulations so as to facilitate trade between the groups’ full members (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela in the process of incorporation).

Another issue brought up by the Uruguayan official was the Mercosur parliament and how it can really advance and become more democratic, particularly regarding the system to elect members.

Almagro pointed out that in Uruguay’s view, Mercosur must have a “more dynamic” relation with United States and China, and underlined the Brazilian commitment (as pro-tempore chair of the group) to advance negotiations for a trade agreement with the European Union.

“It’s not easy, too many, and large, economic interests are at stake, but it is the political decision of all its members to keep advancing since both blocks are ‘synchronized’ in that direction”.

But is spite of the criticism, Almagro said that for Uruguay, Mercosur “remains a strategic priority”, adding that “expanding and making relations more intense among neighbouring countries is essential for the government of President Jose Mujica”.

Regarding Argentina Almagro said “relations were almost paralyzed for too long” in reference to the long confrontation over the UPM/Botnia pulp mill which became the most serious conflict between the neighbouring countries in decades.

“Now things are working well, and we are doing so in very satisfactory conditions”, underlined the minister who nevertheless recalled that “Argentines and Uruguayans have an agenda of 23 issues, among which trade, energy and ports that need to be addressed”.

With Brazil, there was a great boost in relations since President Mujica took office last March and “several meetings” have taken place with his peer Lula da Silva: priority is physical and geographic integration, said Almagro.

The Uruguayan minister underlined the “growing link” with Venezuela “our main supplier of oil” and with Bolivia with which “we are working to receive Bolivian natural gas in the near future”.

Finally with Chile, since the global financial crisis, trade “has contracted” but “we are working to achieve a greater complementation” and the two countries are planning “joint investments” particularly in Asia.

Source: www.mercopress.com


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