Uruguay is disenchanted with Mercosur because national interests and market segmentations prevail over the original idea and the block has not functioned as it was supposed to admitted Carlos Amorin, head of Uruguay's Foreign Office Integration and Mercosur Desk.
With less than two weeks for the Mercosur presidential summit to be hosted by Uruguay in Montevideo, and when Argentine President Cristina Kirchner is expected to play a leading role in her first regional meeting, Uruguay sent a message full of criticisms and frustration. Supposedly "Uruguay was to have access to a larger market but this has not happened because domestic interests and segmented markets prevail. The customs union project is not working, bureaucratic hurdles proliferate and the agenda remains unaccomplished", insisted Mr. Amorin. Uruguay also complained "that economic asymmetries means that Mercosur has two strong partners (Brazil & Argentina) and two weak ones (Uruguay & Paraguay)" and even in practical terms "we can't even agree on a Customs Code because of lack of information from some partners". Amorin said he was pessimistic about a common currency for the block in the short term, "first we must ensure we can make Mercosur function the closest we can to a customs union" and "let's not talk about political asymmetries which make things even more complicated". "Uruguay is more interested in political measures than economic aid. We're well aware Argentina and Brazil are committed to doing something about it, but it's not enough". Amorin said that in the mid term "we'll have to reassess and make adjustments to Mercosur. We need to value the functioning of the block and make the necessary changes to ensure it does effectively work". "Mercosur has become a problem for the European Union and plans to reach a trade agreement are stalled because we are basically competitors in agriculture and have our own problems. Besides EU demands that all produce imported to Mercosur must circulate freely, and integration is not working" underlined the Uruguayan official. As to Venezuela's incorporation Amorin was pragmatic, "it could become an additional difficulty but our main hurdle is access to world markets". Anyhow for Amorin Venezuela could have a positive influence since it would be another full member "that should help keep a reasonable balance".