While for the Venezuelan government Mercosur has become the main priority following its recent exit from the Community of Andean Nations, CAN, the country’s private sector claims it is the worst moment possible for such a move.
“Incorporation to Mercosur at this moment is really harmful for Venezuela’s industry”, claimed Ismael Perez Vigil executive president of the Venezuelan Confederation of Industries (Conindustria)
The issue was extensively debated this week between different private organizations, academia and the Latinamerican Parliament (Parlatino) Venezuelan group.
Vigil said at the conference that Venezuelan industry is much debilitated because of repeated erred policies from the Executive, a situation which makes competition with the manufacturing sectors from Argentina and Brazil.
He added that the situation was different with CAN where the economies were ‘far more complementary’ plus the fact that the different levels among Mercosur full members are also extremely wide.
Jose Guerra, Dean of Venezuela’s Central University School of Economics described the decision to join Mercosur as ‘hasty’ and underlined “Venezuela simply is not prepared” for such a challenge.
He added that having a common external tariff with Brazil, one of the world’s leading economies and competing with Argentina an agricultural power, “was too much for Venezuela and threatened the local manufacturers and farmers”.
“Venezuela’s industrial park has been affected, and such a move (joining Mercosur) could be fatal for industries and labour”, said Guerra.
However Rodrigo Cabezas, president of the Venezuelan Group in the Parlatino argues that Mercosur is a new form of integration “which goes far beyond the customs issue”.
He insisted that Venezuela has much to gain and little to loose if it finally manages full incorporation to Mercosur.
“We’re preparing for a Parlatino session May 11 when we expect to formalize a request for a positive vote from the Paraguayan congress”, said Cabezas. Paraguay is the only country pending a vote on Venezuela. Lawmakers from Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil have already approved the 2006 Venezuelan request.
There have been two attempts from the Paraguayan Executive to send a bill to Congress with the formal incorporation proposal but they never materialized since President Fernando Lugo does not have the sufficient votes. The catch-all coalition that had him elected in 2008 has since atomized.