Bolivia will join Mercosur without abandoning the Andean Community and will continue with negotiations for a cooperation and trade agreement with the European Union, announced in La Paz the Foreign ministers from Bolivia, David Choquehuanca and Luis Almagro from Uruguay which currently holds the group’s chair.
The announcement was made following a meeting of the two ministers together with Mercosur high commissioner, Ivan Ramalho from Brazil.
“The simultaneous negotiation will ensure Bolivia double belonging to the Andean Community, CAN and to Mercosur”, said Almagro who added that Mercosur respects La Paz association negotiations with the EU, since they were started before Bolivia announced its intention of upgrading from associate to full member of Mercosur.
Originally when Bolivia was pondering its request for full Mercosur membership it was established that the country would have to choose between one and the other. However, the Bolivians insisted that since their economy was one of the most underdeveloped in the continent it needed all the aid and support possible, plus sufficient consideration for the vulnerable areas of its economy.
In support of that position and addressing a forum of Bolivian business people in La Paz to outline the benefits of incorporation to Mercosur, Almagro said that he was sure “the path could be found so that Bolivia sustains the double membership since it will strengthen Latinamerican integration”.
Choquehuanca said that Bolivia was grateful to Uruguay, as current chair of Mercosur, for having supported such a position.
The Andean Community is made up of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Originally it also included Venezuela, but former president Hugo Chavez displeased with Colombia and Peru’ negotiations for a free trade agreement with the US (which were finally achieved), decided to abandon the group and request incorporation to Mercosur back in 2006. Ecuador, another potential Mercosur full member, is also holding talks with the EU for a wide ranging cooperation and trade agreement.