It took time and effort, but believe it or not in less than two months time, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay will be presenting their joint tariff reduction proposal to Europe for discussions on an ambitious Mercosur/EU cooperation and trade agreement that has been on the table since 1999, said President Jose Mujica.
Argentina's Hector Timerman and Paraguay's Eladio Loizaga will be meeting Monday in Asunción to address among other issues the three times delayed Mercosur summit, which should take place in Venezuela, and must be decided before next June when the group's six-month chair again rotates.
Argentine cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich confirmed on Tuesday 'significant advances' in the elaboration of Mercosur's joint proposal to exchange with the European Union for discussions on a much delayed wide ranging cooperation and trade agreement.
Mercosur expects to present a joint proposal regarding tariff reductions to the European Union during a meeting next June, according to Brazil's Minister of Development, Trade and Industry, Mauro Borges who apparently convinced a reluctant Argentina to join the group.
The UN resolution condemning the annexation of Crimea by Russia which was voted on Thursday at the general assembly showed Latin America (and Mercosur) divided on the issue. The non binding resolution sponsored by Costa Rica and the western powers received 100 votes, with 11 against and 58 abstentions.
The European Union and Mercosur held last Friday in Brussels the technical meeting, as was scheduled to assess the state of negotiations for a long delayed and ambitious association and trade agreement, but concluded with no calendar for the exchange of tariff reduction proposals, which is central to the discussions.
Mercosur and European Union chief negotiators met on Friday in Brussels to define if conditions are ready for the exchange of tariffs reductions proposals with the purpose of reaching an ambitious trade agreement which was started back in 1999 and has yet to mature.
The Bolivian Senate is expected to vote next month for the full incorporation of the country to Mercosur, thus complying with some of the last steps to join the group made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.
President Jose Mujica said that Mercosur even with all its problems has been a good deal although it could have been better, and it is imperative that the group signs trade agreements with Europe and China, which has become the main trade partner of the region.
Chile's new foreign minister Heraldo Muñoz ratified his country's membership of the Pacific Alliance, a much questioned group by other regional organizations such as the Venezuelan inspired ALBA and even Mercosur led by Brazil, and suggested that Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance could consider integration. Chile is currently an associate member of Mercosur.