The South American Community of Nations has a founding date, next December 9 in Ayacucho, Peru, according to the Mercosur Permanent Representatives Committee President Eduardo Duhalde.
Former Argentine president Duhalde talking in Montevideo said that all South American presidents will be present at the signing of the fundamental chart of this new society of nations, following on the steps of the European Union. Ayacucho in Peru was chosen as the location for the ceremony because in this Andean city the last battle for the liberation of South American continent was fought in December 1824.
Mr. Duhalde added that the idea behind the South American Community is to advance towards the total integration of the 17 million square kilometres of the American continent, which would then become the world's leading trade and political block with a GDP equivalent to 800 billion US dollars and plenty of oil and gas for a hundred years.
"Maybe this is the most important event of our lives; individual countries simply can't make it on their own in a global world", emphasized Mr. Duhalde in Montevideo's Mercsour administrative Secretariat.
Mr. Duahlde said that one of the first areas to integrate could very well be energy following on the EU steps, "a regional grid that would ensure development for the whole continent".
However after signing the Charter in Peru, the instrumentation must be agreed by next March/April and only in two years time will Mercosur and the Community of Andean Nations officially become an only block.
Regarding negotiations for a Mercosur-EU free trade agreement Mr. Duhalde said they remain "stalled" waiting to their resumption next March.
Besides, asymmetries between the largest and smallest economies of Mercosur remain and seem difficult to overcome unless there's more "flexibility".
In an interview with the Brazilian daily O'Globo, outgoing EU Trade Commissar Paul Lamy admitted that before reaching a free trade agreement with the EU, Mercosur needs to finish building up.
"EU is offering a supplementary access to Mercosur's agriculture, in exchange for an increase in the number of consumers of EU goods, but the Mercosur domestic market is still under construction", remarked Mr. Lamy.
"The Mercosur market is slowly opening and we are in some ways helping it to build up", said the EU Trade Commissar adding that "my instinct tells me that the baby is not ready, we shouldn't force it".
However Mr. Lamy praised the G 20 group of countries (which includes among others Brazil, South Africa, India, Egypt, etc) "because it has turned into one the axis of overseas economic relations for the EU".
A new Mercosur-EU meeting is scheduled in Lisbon next March 2005.
According to political analysts in Montevideo and Brasilia the South American Community of Nations can be described as "Plan B", if the EU-Mercosur fell through as effectively happened. Theoretically all South American countries will soon be sitting jointly at trade and political negotiations table with the EU and United States.