The “Mercosur Brand” is the objective set by the countries of the block to continue accessing markets and defend achievements such as the strategic partnership agreement with the European Union (EU).
This was stated on Friday by Uruguayan Foreign Minister Ernesto Talvi and the director of the department of Mercosur and Regional Integration of Brazil, Michel Arslanian Neto, during his presentation at the 1st Integration and Development Forum organized by FONPLATA-Development Bank in Montevideo.
This debate organized by the multilateral organization integrated by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, entitled “International Trade and Integration”, lasted for more than an hour and there was sought to reflect on integration opportunities, trade agreements of the region and the challenges in the framework of a complex international context.
MERCOSUR-EUROPEAN UNION, ONE BEFORE AND ONE AFTER
“The countries that integrate Mercosur are going to have nuances and differences, we are not the same country and that is why the agreements are negotiated laboriously but here there is a very important decision to move forward in this geostrategic direction, of integration to return to the Mercosur’s original DNA, “said Talvi.
In this regard, the Uruguayan minister explained that the agreement with the EU introduces “flexibilities” that allow countries to “go at different speeds.”
“It is a matrix in which we negotiate the four together and that the Mercosur brand is preserved. We are negotiating together, in that negotiation we all participate, we all make our interests known,” he said.
Talvi also stressed that Brazil has “the foot on the accelerator” to conclude the agreement but warned, laughing, that Uruguay will go even faster.
For the chancellor, Mercosur woke up from a 30-year nap and today seeks to get on the train of integration with the rest of the world.
Arslanian Neto said that what is being done now is “to fulfill the purposes of Mercosur” and this dynamism that acquired the agenda of the block allows his country to take it as an “important ally” for the reforms that are being carried out.
“This perception of a Mercosur as a tool of prosperity, modernity, is a central element that we have to preserve and reinforce,” he added.
Beyond the conditions of the agreement with the EU, the conclusion of the negotiations emits “a very important signal” of Mercosur’s commitment to improve the conditions under which it negotiates and its transparency.
“The fact that it is Mercosur and not individual countries gives more weight to the insertion in the countries and the world,” he said.
The general secretary of the Latin American Integration Association (Aladi), Alejandro de la Peña, also participated in this debate; the chief economist for Latin America and the Caribbean of the World Bank (WB), Martín Rama; and the European Union ambassador to Uruguay, Karl-Otto König.
Regarding the EU-Mercosur agreement, König explained that the goal of the block is to achieve “global governance structures” in a joint action with Latin America.
“This agreement, which is much more than a Free Trade Agreement, is a strategic partnership treaty that has three pillars: an institutional leg; a political and cooperative and commercial one,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rama stressed that for Mercosur in terms of growth “the expectation is very high.”
“Agreements such as that of the European Union-Mercosur go much further than traditional agreements covering areas of commerce, intellectual property, sanitary standards,” he emphasized.
PACIFIC ALLIANCE, THE NEXT OBJECTIVE
In addition to reflecting on the agreements made, in the debate the relationship between Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance, made up of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, was put on the table.
“It should be a strategic objective. I think that the objectives that we have proposed in the action plan are timid, we should go for more, to enhance the integration between these two great blocks so that the integration of Latin America is another of the great pillars of development, cooperation and geostrategic that position us in the world, “said Talvi.
Arslanian Neto was in the same line as the Uruguayan Foreign Minister and said that there is still “much to do” between the two blocks but that, for now, the main obstacle is Mexico.
“The Mercosur brand is a concern but the Latin American brand is very important and if we manage to send the world a message that this region is increasingly focused, with standards aligned, I believe that this is a powerful instrument for our economic insertion” he added.
For his part, the secretary general of Aladi said that the interest of the leading body is to advance to the step “of those who want to go faster” and that this Association can be used as a facilitator to reach agreement between the parties.