Mercosur is a fundamental legal milestone in regional integration, and a turning point in the history of member countries, said Uruguay's foreign minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa during a conference celebrating the 25th anniversary, (March 1991), of the founding of the South American group, who nevertheless admitted serious challenges.
Twenty five years ago in a very different world, the basic purpose of Mercosur was to promote the joint economic growth of its founding members, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, and promote living conditions of its peoples and nowadays continues as the most important target, underlined Nin Novoa.
Economic development through integration is not the objective in itself, but an instrument to improve living conditions of millions of Argentines, Brazilians, Paraguayans and Uruguayans, Venezuelans and very soon Bolivians.
He added that it has become patent obvious that this instrument has become every day more complex, since it has incorporated aspects that go beyond those that are purely economic or commercial and this is reflected at the same time in the institutional development, but also in the necessary link which it must have with the essential objectives of the process. To that respect we must maintain coherence between the different bodies and agencies so that they harmonize with our needs.
But Nin Novoa also admitted that Mercosur is facing serious difficulties both domestically and internationally. But history has shown that an integration process that is celebrating 25 years is still in the institutional learning period. That is why governments must concentrate our greatest efforts so that we do not repeat shortcomings and blunders, and pave the way for a better future.
Nin Novoa then enumerated the main challenges faced by Mercosur: first it is imperative to deepen our links inside the block and its multiple aspects, always keeping in mind that its main axis was the trade essence which is singular to any integration process among states.
Secondly Mercosur must seriously reconsider the insertion of the block in the international system.
It is essential to become an international alternative reference, generating the necessary attraction for investments, business and economic agents, which value positively the merits our region can offer.
The minister added that in our region we have all which the world demands: food for millions, water resources, minerals, energy, and besides that a human factor of extraordinary value and expertise.
These first 25 years have guided us in this new track, while the future of Mercosur and member countries is full of possibilities and potential for growth and development. Our task it to toil so that in the near future, when we again meet to review the process, we can conclude definitively that in effect it has been a useful indispensable instrument to achieve our much ambitioned development objectives, concluded the Uruguayan minister.
Uruguay currently holds the six-month Mercosur chair and this month should lead a delegation to Brussels to finally address the exchange of tariff-reduction proposals for a much delayed trade and cooperation agreement with the European Union.