In the aftermath of Friday's presidential clash between Alberto Fernández and Uruguay's Luis Lacalle Pou over the Mercosur's alleged lack of “flexibility,” Argentine Foreign Ministry's Cabinet Chief Guillermo Chaves said Saturday in a radio interview that the bloc's fundamental identity was to negotiate jointly on behalf of all members, but if each partner was allowed to hold deals individually, the association would lose its raison d'être.
In Chaves's view, Lacalle's words were inappropriate for the occasion, considering the virtual summit going on was convened to celebrate the group's 30th anniversary. It was an untimely expression by the Uruguayan president that sets Uruguay's view on negotiating bilaterally with other countries outside the Mercosur bloc, he added.
We believe that the essence of Mercosur's fundamental identity is to negotiate jointly with the other blocs or countries, but if each country is allowed to negotiate individually, Mercosur loses its reason for being.
Chaves underlined that the strength in the face of the world coming our way is to be united and expand the integration model and not weaken it.
Regarding the political differences with Brazil and Uruguay, Chaves believed there is a different worldview among us in that we have a developmental vision oriented towards the growth of industrial activity and not so much towards financial activity as neoliberal governments in the other countries of the region have.”
When analyzing Brazil's request to reduce or eliminate the common external tariff, he pointed out that there “has been for years a form of tariff protection that makes our industries, also the Brazilian ones and those of the rest of the countries, competitive and able to develop and grow” and this protection tariff tool is not only used by Mercosur but also used by all countries in their trade relations to try to have the best benefits and reduce damages because any free trade agreement that is not regulated ends up being detrimental to the countries or bloc with less economic power”, he explained.
He added that “the idea of modifying the external tariff has an internal debate also in Uruguay and Brazil because the industrial unions of those countries have a much closer look at ours, so it is a subject to discuss and we are willing to negotiate, but we also have to know that we are in a very special context due to the pandemic and that is why the decision should not be hasty and it has to be by consensus.”
The high rank diplomat also referred to Argentina's decision to leave the Lima Group: We did not share the way in which the actions against Venezuela were being carried out” and the “group did not have any positive results in the case of Venezuela.
But he did point out the Alberto Fernández administration remained in many regards critical of Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro. (Telam)