The largest opposition coalition in Argentina, Together for Change, to which former President Mauricio Macri (2015-2019) belongs, rejected this Saturday that the government of the Peronist Alberto Fernández has abandoned the ongoing trade negotiations of Mercosur.
The opposition bloc considered in a statement that the current Executive gave an “excuse” by saying that it was leaving those negotiations with Canada, South Korea and Singapore, and any future that Mercosur may address, because it must respond to the coronavirus pandemic in your country.
“The excuse given for the pandemic cannot stop long-term negotiations,” they indicated, while referring to the fact that the decision may have an adverse effect on another negotiation, that of restructuring Argentine debt, because “Argentina opening new markets help, not hinder “debt talks.
Together for Change they considered that it is “crucial to maintain the deployment of coordination efforts in multilateral, regional and global spheres.”
“To get out of this crisis, Argentina needs more, not fewer markets. To get out of the crisis, Argentina needs to join forces with our partners and not abandon them,” read the statement, signed by opposition leaders such as Patricia Bullrich and Mario Negri.
Under Macri’s presidency, the South American country prioritized opening towards external markets and together with Mercosur managed to close free trade agreements with the European Union (EU), at the end of June 2019, after almost two decades of negotiation, and with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
THE FOREIGN MINISTRY ATTRIBUTES IT TO THE PANDEMIC
In communicating its decision to abandon the ongoing negotiations, the Argentine Foreign Ministry, headed by Felipe Solá, specified in a statement that the Government will “continue to accompany the march” of the agreements signed with the EU and EFTA.
However, they considered that “international uncertainty and the very situation of our economy advise stopping the march” of negotiations with other states.
“Argentina is prevented from the effects of the pandemic while protecting companies, employment and the situation of the most humble families,” argued from the Foreign Ministry to go against the positions of Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, the other countries of the South American bloc .
Argentina is currently in a situation of compulsory social isolation since March 20.
They stressed that the change in position “does not arise from a whim but from a vision on how to strengthen relations with the nations of the regional bloc.”
DECISION COMMUNICATED IN A VIDEO CONFERENCE
“The Argentine Republic reported that it adopted this determination in response to the priorities of its internal economic policy, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and indicated that it will not be an obstacle for the other States Parties to continue with the various negotiating processes,” explained the Paraguayan Foreign Ministry, which holds the pro tempore presidency of Mercosur, in a note on Friday night.
The Argentine delegation transmitted this decision to their peers during the meeting of National Coordinators of the Common Market Group on external relations, which was held this Friday by videoconference.