Mercosur is facing yet a new crisis stemming from Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou's eagerness to join any foreign trade alliance no matter what.
While Uruguay's Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo is on a tour of Australia and New Zealand to negotiate his country's accession to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the governments of Alberto Fernández, Jair Bolsonaro and Mario Abdo Benítez are on alert.
Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay agreed on Wednesday to take joint action through a declaration warning Uruguay of the possible legal consequences of running solo despite Mercosur's agreements.
The move comes six days before the bloc's Summit of Heads of States of Mercosur Member and Associated States to be held Dec. 6 in the Uruguayan capital and during which Argentina is to take over the pro tempore presidency of the Southern Common Market.
”In view of the actions of the Uruguayan government with a view to the individual negotiation of trade agreements with a tariff dimension, and taking into account the possible presentation by the Oriental Republic of Uruguay of a request for accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the National Coordinators of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay before the Mercosur Common Market hereby inform the National Coordination of Uruguay that the three countries reserve the right to adopt the potential measures they deem necessary to defend their interests in the legal and commercial spheres,” read the note sent to Lacalle's administration.
Uruguay reportedly plans to announce the country's accession to the TPP, in a move to reduce trade barriers and tariffs, as well as to establish a common framework in relation to intellectual property.
Montevideo already announced negotiations with China to reach a trade deal outside Mercosur, which is yet to be concluded.
It is feared that should Uruguay insist on its unilateral undertakings, the future if the bloc will be compromised, particularly after Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva is sworn in Jan. 1 for his third term as president of Brazil. When that happens, Argentina and Brazil -Mercosur's two largest members- will be ruled by like-minded governments who do not stand along with Lacalle's Multicolor coalition.