Argentina said that on Thursday it presented to its partner countries in Mercosur “solutions” to continue carrying out the bloc’s external trade negotiations, also made up of Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
The proposal, whose details were not reported, was presented in the framework of the meeting of national Mercosur coordinators that was held this Thursday by videoconference.
“On the occasion, Argentina formally presented the proposal, anticipated last Tuesday, for the bloc to advance together in trade negotiations, taking into account the defense of its productive fabric and employment,” the Argentine Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Two weeks ago, Argentina had communicated to its partners its decision to withdraw from the negotiations that Mercosur has open with other markets, alleging that, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the world economy, it has chosen to protect their companies and Argentine employment.
The Government of Alberto Fernández then argued that international uncertainty and the very situation of the Argentine economy, in recession for two years, “advise to stop the march” of the Mercosur negotiations, while its regional partners, on the contrary, promote an acceleration of the negotiations to seal free trade agreements with South Korea, Singapore, Lebanon, Canada and India, among others.
In this context, Argentina last week raised the need to seek joint solutions that allow the countries of the bloc to advance at different rates on the agenda of external negotiations.
The rules of the South American bloc do not currently allow Mercosur to sign a trade agreement without the consensus of the four partners.
As noted by the Argentine Foreign Ministry, in today’s “constructive meeting” the Argentine initiative “was valued by the partners of the bloc who alluded to its clarity and made specific consultations.”
NO TO A “FRIVOLOUS” OPENING
In his speech, the Argentine national coordinator, Jorge Neme, argued that Mercosur must be connected to the world, with investment flows, technology transfer and global markets, but “protecting its sensitive sectors, work and creation of added value in the region “.
According to the Argentine representative, “it is not a frivolous opening that exposes its production structure to external competition.”
Argentina reiterated that in the negotiations opened by the bloc – South Korea, Singapore, Canada and Lebanon – “it is necessary to move forward together but protecting the vulnerable sectors of the Argentine economy.”
In this context, Neme reiterated Argentina’s interest in expanding trade opportunities with the countries of Central America.
“We must tackle all the challenges together, as we have done on countless occasions over thirty years: as brother countries, as partners, as a bloc that aspires to deepen not only their commercial integration but also their economic ties, political and cultural, “concluded Neme.
The partners agreed to hold a video conference again next Tuesday to continue advancing on the external agenda.