December 17, 2021
President Alberto Fernández called on Mercosur to “give priority to dynamic and competitive integration” over the particular interests of each government region of. “There is no future for hermit countries whether they turn in on themselves or undertake adventures in solitude, ”he warned.
The Argentinian president’s exhortation was made during his speech to the summit that the regional bloc held this morning by videoconference, with Brazil as the virtual headquarters.
“We experience the development of other countries as our own development. The growth of one has favored that of the others ”, declared the Argentine president. of Residence Olivos.
The expressions were a blow to the elevation to the conservative government of Uruguay, whose president Luis Lacalle Pou insisted on individual agreements outside the bloc. Moreover, during his speech, he justified this position in his decision to move forward towards a trade agreement with China, on which he warned this week that “there is no turning back”.
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Photo: Presidency of the Nation
What was discussed at the summit, which was also attended by the presidents of Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benítez, and of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, was the 10 percent reduction in the common external tariff, which was practically consensual. However, in recent months, Uruguay has conditioned its support for Mercosur by also approving a modification of the clause which prevents its members from individually negotiating trade agreements with other countries or blocs.
During his speech, Alberto Fernández asserted that the bloc is “the most important regional integration project for Argentina” and called on other countries to “discuss in depth with loyalty and frankness how to continue to partner on infrastructure, connectivity, energy and business intelligence.”
“We must debate without fear” and thus overcome “different political signs or ideological differences”, he stressed.
The debate on the common external tariff
For its part, Bolsonaro regretted that Mercosur did not conclude agreements to lower the common external tariff. “We regret that we cannot reach agreements on this issue during this semester,” during which Brazil held the rotating presidency of the bloc, declared and was convinced that this measure “will benefit all our productive sectors”.
Despite this, last month Brazil stepped forward and unilaterally announced the application of this 10 percent reduction in this tariff, after having obtained the support of Argentina, until then the only country remained reluctant to this measure.
As Bolsonaro explained at the summit, this is an “exceptional and temporary movement”, forced by the economic difficulties generated by the coronavirus pandemic in Brazil, one of the countries most affected by the health crisis in the world.
Alberto Fernández also spoke about the tariff revision. He specified that Argentina has adopted “a productive approach aimed at reducing inputs and raw materials which allows us to gain competitiveness by promoting our integration into regional value chains”, and he called on his partners “not to waste this opportunity”.
He stressed that the adoption of the Declaration on Cooperation in Defense Fields, signed within the framework of the summit, “is the starting point to start shaping an agenda of common interests” and represents “A new concrete expression of how we move from a logic of rivalry to a dynamic of integration and cooperation”.
“We are a zone of peace and democracy. Let us debate without fear knowing that having a different political sign does not prevent us from improving the common infrastructure and think about a fairer and more modern future for the region ”, he declared.
On the other hand, he spoke about the 31 years that will elapse from the creation of a common market. It is a “historic step that we have taken under extremely difficult conditions”, and therefore “our will is to strengthen regional and global integration that affects both the social and the productive and that it consolidates and promotes democracy in our countries ”, he concluded.