Foreign minister Jose Felix Fernandez Estigarribia said that Paraguay needs an open discussion on whether the country should remain or not in Mercosur, particularly since the issue has become extremely divisive. However the discussion must be addressed by the elected government that takes office in August 2013.
“The new government must define our permanence or not as full member of Mercosur. This is a pending debate since in Paraguayan public opinion there’s a growing feeling, probably majority who oppose Mercosur. This is so in the business community and even some presidential hopefuls support the idea”, said Fernandez Estigarribia.
The minister said that the debate on the issue is a task for the government after the April 2013 elections: “we have to be very careful about what we finally do, taking into account all interests, of all sectors from Paraguay”.
Fernandez Estigarribia revealed that once a month his ministry brings together representatives from the different chambers which is when “we have a good idea what the business and manufacturing community thinks, and they are divided, there are some pushing to exit Mercosur as full member and others against it”.
Precisely last week on occasion of the end of the year gathering the head of the Paraguayan Industrial Union, UIP Eduardo Felippo said the future of Mercosur was ‘uncertain’. Among the authorities present was President Federico Franco.
“Paraguay must open to the world; we must accept that Mercosur has not meant positive results, rather the contrary, it has us in a slow persistent anaesthesia to the extent we didn’t realize that the others were growing vigorously (Chile, Peru) and we were stalled and dying happily”, said Felippo emphasizing that if in 20 years no real integration was achieved, much less under current circumstances with Paraguay suspended from the group.
He added that in twenty years Mercosur has not materialized a single integration process of relevance, not even with the European Union could we reach an agreement on trade. And how can this be achieved now when we have Venezuela among us, a country dedicated to blast its own production machinery?”