Uruguay's Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo Friday said that in addition to China there were several other countries interested in reaching one-on-one trade deals with his country.
Bustillo made those remarks while touring Montevideo's traditional Expo Prado fair, which is due to inaugurate today.
Shortly, we may be able to make another announcement, Bustillo pointed out. He also said the other three Mercosur members (Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay) would also be informed on the developments of Uruguay's single-handled negotiations.
Not only with China. There are already other countries who have expressed their interest to us, so we may be able to make another announcement shortly.” Bustillo said. We continue to vindicate our membership of Mercosur, he added.
Bustillo also reiterated Uruguay's stance against the double collection of the common external tariff, which goes against the grain. that could be a healthy Customs Union. He added that Mercosur was still far from being a Customs Union. What we must recognize is that we are, at best, an imperfect free trade zone, he explained.
The Foreign Minister also recalled that when the bloc was founded there were talks about reaching out to the world under the “Mercosur brand, but this led to negotiations like the one with the European Union, which have not yet materialized. Mercosur has shown a great inability to present achievements in this regard, Bustillo said, adding that in 11 years Mercosur has not managed to bring on a single agreement on international insertion, while 172 such trade agreements have been signed globally elsewhere involving “many countries and many blocs.
Earlier this week, Uruguay announced it would seek a free trade agreement with China, something which is expressly not allowed by Mercosur's founding charters.
Regarding Uruguay's initiative, Argentina's Development Minister Matías Kulfas had said that you can make a bilateral agreement with China outside of Mercosur or you can continue within Mercosur.
“There is no particular position. It is clear that Uruguay is a sovereign country. You can make the decision that seems most convenient to you, said Kulfas.
“Uruguay's economy is different from that of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. There are productive heterogeneities. We are open to chat and discuss. What I am saying is that the Mercosur framework is governed by the rule of consensus and by the rule that it negotiates as a bloc,” Kulfas also pointed out.
Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou had also announced his country intended to “do it with everyone; this is not one or the other, if the United States wants to, we are going to do it” as well. Uruguay goes from words to action because we want prosperity for our compatriots, he added.