Mercosur is a success, intra-trade has expanded at double the rate of world trade and despite all the bad press, the block is advancing on other fields such as social affairs and citizenship, according to Ivan Ramalho, Mercosur's High Representative, who is a former Brazilian deputy minister of trade and development issues.
There has been praise and criticism for Mercosur, but we are certainly not paralyzed as the impression delivered by the media: besides the incorporation of Venezuela, Bolivia is in the process of joining and Guyana and Suriname are associate members. Yes, small economies but very much integrated to the north of South America, and in practical terms means Mercosur now extends from Patagonia to the Caribbean, emphasized Ramalho.
He added that Mercosur has trade accords with members of the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia and Peru), and with Ecuador which have a 20bn dollars bilateral trade with Mercosur members.
So contrary to belief Mercosur is clearly growing with trade among the countries that make it up close to 60bn dollars, and trade has been expanding at double the world rate, and we are possibly the fourth/fifth largest economic space, which I would define as a success, insisted the Mercosur representative.
Ramalho considered that as a trade and investments project Mercosur is consolidated and now must move to other fields that make to social affairs and a common citizenship: free movement of people so they can work in other countries of the block and their contributions will add up for their retirement and pensions.
Mercosur has boosted manufacturing, goods with added value, which means more factories, more jobs, better paid jobs, and not the simple sale of non processed commodities. Besides despite the difference in size and potential of the different members' economies we created the Structural Convergence Fund to support the smaller economies with soft loans, which again means the group, despite asymmetries is advancing and moving ahead.
Finally Ramalho underlined that the new geopolitical Mercosur from Patagonia to the Caribbean has a GDP equivalent to 85% of South America's, a population of 260 million and an extraordinary growing middle class consumers market.