Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou Wednesday announced negotiations with China to reach a bilateral free trade agreement are to begin, after technical teams from the two countries found it feasible, it was reported in Montevideo.
Since this government took office, despite the pandemic, we have had a foreign relations policy of linking up with the world with a purely open-minded vocation, said Lacalle, who was praised by Chinese authorities for his stance towards opening up to the world.
What began in September 2021, which was the joint feasibility agreement with the People's Republic of China, has concluded and, with satisfaction, we can say that this conclusion is positive, that we have reached an agreement that is beneficial for both countries and now we can formally start the negotiation for a Free Trade Agreement, Lacalle went on.
Agreements mean prosperity, opportunities, and jobs. Our desire since the beginning of the government is to try to sell, to trade the products, the raw material, the industrialized and the technology of our country, he added.
Lacalle moved on with this initiative despite opposition from Mercosur allies who insisted that, as per their construction of the bloc's founding Treaty of Asunción, unilateral deals with other countries or blocs are not allowed, at least not without prior consent from the other members, namely Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.
Regarding this issue, Lacalle explained that Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo had already conveyed the news to the ambassadors of the three partners.
In every Mercosur summit and in every instance we have had we have reaffirmed Uruguay's open-minded vocation. This does not contravene nor is it opposed to membership of the bloc, Lacalle insisted.
From our point of view and with the international rules in force in Mercosur, we are entitled to move forward. We have always said that we do not want to move forward alone, we all know the weight that Mercosur has in the demographic and economic dimension to move forward together. What Uruguay was not willing to do was to stand still, Lacalle explained.
The Uruguayan President also said he had briefed the leaders of the other parties of his ruling Multicolor coalition on the new developments, as well as leaders of opposition political forces