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Montevideo, July 4th 2022 - 05:36 UTC



FTA with China would not make Uruguay dependent, Lacalle tells BBC

Saturday, May 28th 2022 - 10:15 UTC
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“Today the US government is not looking south,” Lacalle underlined. “Today the US government is not looking south,” Lacalle underlined.

Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou said in an interview with the BBC that in case or reaching a Free Trade Agreement with China, it would not generate dependence, because in his country politics and economics were separate issues.

Lacalle insisted Uruguay does not have “Chinese investments” in infrastructure, which helps avoid a subordinate relationship with China unlike in those countries with financial injections which are subsequently subservient to the Asian giant.

“We have our investments, we don't need some things that maybe China can offer. We don't need infrastructure,” he added during the interview with the BBC's which was recorded during the South American leader's recent London trip.

Lacalle Pou also pointed out that the United States does “not have a vision of Latin America or they consider that they do” but it is wrong. The administration of US President Joseph Biden believes that “from the Mexican border down to Tierra del Fuego we all have the same problems and the same needs.” And he underlined that Biden has so far not reached out to Uruguay for trade agreements.

Asked if in this scenario he was putting all his geopolitical eggs in China's basket, Lacalle replied that “I put my eggs where I can.” He added that he would like to achieve a balance in trade relations with China, Europe, and the United States, but currently this is not attainable.

Regarding China's human rights record, Lacalle stressed that “one thing is trade and another thing is human rights, ideology or whatever.” Then Lacalle recalled his great-grandfather Luis Alberto de Herrera used to quote Lord Palmerston's adage that “countries do not have permanent enemies, nor permanent friends; they have permanent interests”.

Lacalle also reaffirmed his country's Mercosur membership, despite the differences, and said that “we do not accept the argument that we have to do it all together,” because “Brazil and Argentina are not willing to open as fast as we want and as fast as we need to.”

“We are trying to convince Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. Paraguay has more than 33% of its exports in Mercosur and is not a partner in this trip,” he added.

When asked about Argentine President Alberto Fernández's “invitation” to leave Mercosur's boat if the bloc was such a heavy burden, Lacalle replied that Uruguay was onboard. “Let's think about who is the burden.”

”We want to move forward and we will move forward. We are trying to agree with China, with Turkey. This invitation from the (British) prime minister for us was a very good moment to talk about trade with the UK, and we will move forward,” he also pointed out.

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