Chilean President Sebastián Piñera made his Mercosur debut this week at the regional trade association’s summit in San Juan, Argentina, delivering a well received speech and holding separate meetings with Bolivian President Evo Morales and Brazil’s Lula da Silva and Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner.
At the meeting Piñera worked to finalize a “bi-oceanic” agreement with Brazil and Bolivia to create a trade route between the port of Santos in Brazil through Santa Cruz Region in Bolivia to Iquique and Arica in Chile.
The presidents of the three countries are scheduled to meet in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in November to further advance the agreement, a meeting which will mark Piñera's first visit to Bolivia since taking office.
The presidents of Chile, Argentina and Brazil presidents also worked on another bi-oceanic initiative to connect Chile’s port of Coquimbo to Brazil’s Porto Alegre, by way of Córdoba, Argentina.
During Lula da Silva’s November visit to Chile the two presidents will travel to Easter Island, something the Brazilian leader has said he wanted to do for a long time, and will also spend a night in Antofagasta visiting the Cerro Armazones Astronomy Observatory. Lula da Silva lobbied strongly for the construction of what will be the world’s largest telescope at Armazones, and at the summit committed Brazil to investing in the project.
Piñera also used the Mercosur summit to advance Chile’s relationship with Bolivia. Piñera’s predecessor – Michelle Bachelet – had a very close relationship with Morales and agreed on a 13-point agenda that includes Bolivia’s desire to negotiate an outlet to the Pacific Ocean. Piñera discussed the 13-point agenda with Morales and worked to create a positive relationship with the Bolivian president.
Mercosur full members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru holding associate member status. Venezuela has signed a membership agreement which has yet to be approved.
By Kayla Ruble - Santiago Times