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US Senator introduced bill to extend trade benefits to Uruguay

Wednesday, September 16th 2009 - 12:15 UTC
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The influential Senator Richard Lugar The influential Senator Richard Lugar

United States Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a bill Tuesday to extend US trade benefits to Uruguay. The move he says would increase pressure on Brazil to deepen commercial ties.

The bill, introduced hours before Lugar met in Washington with Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez, would include Uruguay in the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act, which is set to expire this year, his office said in a statement.

The Indiana Republican is among a group of Senate and House members who earlier this year proposed expanding the bill, intended to assist US anti-narcotics efforts, by granting duty-free access for exports from Paraguay. Both Uruguay and Paraguay have expressed frustration over Brazil and Argentina’s domination of the Mercosur trade block, of which they are junior members.

A June report prepared by Lugar’s staff recommends bypassing Mercosur common external tariff, which prevents members from signing individual free trade agreements, by granting trade privileges unilaterally to Uruguay.

Embracing Uruguay would send a “signal the US is not ceding its interests” in the region and “could encourage some heretofore reluctant countries to expand their trade relations with the US,” said the report, which was based on meetings with Uruguayan officials.

Foremost among them is Brazil, Latinamerica’s largest economy and a growing voice in international affairs, the report says.

The US dominant role as South America’s largest trading partner has been eroded in recent years. Trade with emerging economies like China and inter-regional trade led by Brazil keeps expanding. This year, China replaced the US as Brazil’s largest trading partner.

Categories: Politics, United States, Uruguay.

Top Comments

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  • Tim Andrews

    If the U.S. wants to unilaterally open up its market to duty-free entry of certain (but not all) Paraguayan and Uruguayan exports and not get anything in return, as would be the case if both countries are included in ATPDEA as Lugar proposes, more power to them! However, Lugar is in Republican La La Land if he believes this will push Brazil to do anything. Until the U.S. agrees to get rid of its wasteful agricultural subsidy programs or counterproductive anti-dumping laws, there is no incentive for Brazil to negotiate with the U.S. on trade.

    Sep 16th, 2009 - 08:46 pm 0
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