Argentine President Alberto Fernández assured his Uruguayan counterpart Luis Lacalle Pou on Tuesday that his country will not leave Mercosur despite the fact that it decided to exit the external trade negotiations of the bloc that both countries integrate with Brazil and Paraguay. .
“The decision is not to leave Mercosur, it is to make it bigger, with more members,” the Argentine president told Lacalle Pou, according to Argentine official sources.
Fernández also stressed that Argentina and Uruguay must help to find a regional logic in the Southern Common Market (Mercosur).
The telephone conversation between the two presidents took place days after Argentina announced on Friday its exit from the trade agreement negotiations that the regional bloc maintains with third countries, in a move that surprised the other partners.
Argentina, the second largest partner in the bloc created in 1991, decided to depart from the negotiations that Mercosur has open with other nations to protect “companies, employment and the situation of the most humble families” in the context of the global crisis that unleashed the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As reported by the Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires, the Government made this decision “unlike the positions of some partners, which propose an acceleration of the negotiations towards free trade agreements with South Korea, Singapore, Lebanon, Canada and India, between others”.
However, Argentina guaranteed its regional partners that it “will continue to accompany” the progress of the Mercosur agreements with the European Union and the EFTA (European Free Trade Agreement), “without entering into sterile debates for now.”
In the conversation on Tuesday, Fernández and Lacalle Pou promised to deepen joint work within Mercosur to correct the asymmetries in the region and agreed that they will instruct their respective foreign ministers to advance in this regard.
On the other hand, the presidents analyzed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region and agreed to complement the work on health between the two countries, official sources indicated.