When in a society the rules are broken, someone is breaking them, Argentine President Alberto Fernández told his Uruguayan colleague Luis Lacalle Pou during the Mercosur Summit in Montevideo Wednesday.
Fernández was referring to Uruguay's solo endeavors to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership while brokering other trade deals unilaterally, which has raised doubts about the future of the South American bloc.
We are not willing to stand still. Personally and as a team, we are moving forward. Whoever stands still loses, Lacalle had said.
We are concerned about unilateral decisions with third countries. When in a society the rules are broken, someone is breaking them, Fernández replied.
Lacalle then tried to soothe things down Pou by wishing Argentina and Brazil the best of luck in the [football] World Cup, from which Uruguay have been eliminated.
Uruguay's conservative government views Mercosur as a corset for economic growth and encourages Free Trade Agreements with China and the Trans-Pacific Agreement. After Lacalle's intentions to join the latter bloc were known, Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay sent Montevideo a joint note warning of the possible legal consequences.
I am sure that everyone came to look for a turnaround. This is not about rupture. It is about resolving tensions, Lacalle told the Summit Wednesday before insisting on Uruguay's rogue negotiations. The world is another and the region is another. It is no longer that the world waits for us. And the world is moving forward. We indeed arrived today with tensions. We have spoken bilaterally with all countries, formally and informally. Uruguay needs and has the vocation to open up to the world, said Lacalle Pou. If we go to this opening as a group, it is much better, Lacalle added. Of course, if we offer the world a market like that of the four countries, we will have much greater negotiating power. That is what we are looking for, but we are not willing to stand still, he went on.
Regarding the trade deal between the European Union and Mercosur, Lacalle stressed that We cannot wait 25 years to sign an agreement, it is not serious, [and] that is why we intend to continue expanding Uruguay's possibilities.
Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao said Mercosur was now more efficient and productive, which was made possible by working together. I am convinced that Mercosur is now more efficient and more productive and that it will only yield results if it remains alive and credible in the eyes of our populations, Mourao went on. He added that Brazil was willing to discuss different negotiation modalities, observing the fundamental treaties and the rules of consensus.
It is necessary to preserve the fluidity of trade between us, Mourao said.
”We went to Central America and the Caribbean and finally concluded agreements with extra-zone countries such as the European Union and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), and in 2022 we managed to conclude negotiations with Singapore, he listed.
For Mourao, Mercosur was able to be connected to the world and generate modern economic growth, with simple rules and said that it must be committed to delivering concrete benefits to citizens living in the bloc.
Meanwhile, Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez called for deepening Mercosur's integration, as well as managing the tension that prevails in the bloc to be able to emerge stronger.
We have gone through the hardest and most challenging moments of our integration process. The president of the only country that was temporarily suspended from the bloc is speaking, and yet we are convinced that this integration process is fundamental and strategic for the development of our peoples, Abdo said.
In his view, Russia's invasion of Ukraine generated a debate and greater interest in European leaders in diversifying their strategic allies in the world and said that today the world is going to look with much more interest” at clean energies and the potential in this area.