Brazil will be chairing Mercosur during the second semester of the year following the presidential summit held in Buenos Aires July 1st. , when Argentina officially ended its tenure, six months that were dedicated to eliminate scepticism and rebuild trust among the members of the world's third most important trade block.
Although important industries such as cars and sugar, plus Chile's full entry and mechanisms to solve trade disputes still figure in the liability list, the great asset has been the decision to leave the controversial issues under a "political umbrella", and begin a quick recovery of time and trade figures lost during most of '99, when the Brazilian crisis sent shock waves across the block endangering its survival.
Under stewardship from the new De la Rúa administration Argentina managed to reverse the negative tendency and thrust Mercosur with several bilateral agreements with Brazil, that although questioned by Uruguay and Paraguay, helped to rebuild a strong foundation after the debacle of 1999, when Brazil recently confessed was at the verge of abandoning the block.
Understandings were reached in several other industries, paper, hides, footwear, rice, poultry, dairy, and a formal agreement for a convergence of macroeconomic indexes regarding fiscal, public debt, exchange rate and prices policies.
But in spite of the trade disputes of the last eighteen months, it must be underlined that political coincidence among the four full members, and two associates, particularly in international forums has never been stronger.
"In the worst moment, instead of giving up, we decided to go ahead", said President De la Rúa. "We've realised it's not only economics and trade, it's above all people", indicated Brazilian president Cardoso describing the calm that follows stormy weather.