The 61st Summit of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) is starting Monday in Montevideo. During the two-day event, Uruguay is to hand over the six-month pro tempore presidency of the group to Argentina.
Tense moments are forecasted for a meeting gripped by Uruguay's recent decision to unilaterally file for membership before the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), despite Mercosur's rules on rogue endeavors and warnings from the other partners that they might retaliate.
We feel we have every right to apply for membership, said President Luis Lacalle Pou, who insisted Uruguay must open up to the world on a commercial level.
Before Uruguay's submission, national Mercosur coordinators from Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay had stated that the three countries reserve the right to adopt any measures they deem necessary to defend their interests in the legal and commercial spheres because of the actions of the Uruguayan government with a view to the individual negotiation of trade agreements with a tariff dimension.
We understand, although we do not share, the claim of the three countries, Lacalle replied. He also foresaw that these issues would be addressed at the Montevideo Summit.
Lacalle argued that there is still a lack of consensus in Mercosur as to the legal interpretation of whether or not it is possible to move forward bilaterally.” At any rate, Lacalle's view is not seen with the same eyes by Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.
Despite the Summit nature of the event, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is to hand over power in less than one month, will be represented by Vice President Hamilton Mourao, it was announced.
In addition to Mourao and Lacalle, also attending the gathering will be Presidents Alberto Fernández of Argentina and Mario Abdo Benítez of Paraguay, as well as by dignitaries from Mercosur associate states Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Suriname.
Also present will be Bolivian Foreign Minister Rogelio Mayta, whose country is in the process of joining Mercosur.