Uruguay Wednesday issued a closing statement Wednesday ratifying President Luis Lacalle Pou's intentions to keep seeking trade opportunities outside Mercosur. The document came after the South American bloc's LXI Summit held earlier this week in Montevideo, which, unlike previous gatherings, produced no joint declaration.
On the other hand, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay (all full Mercosur member states), and Bolivia (whose joining the bloc has been requested) did release a document addressing the current status of the alliance.
The Uruguayan Foreign Ministry's communiqué highlighted the importance of the exchanges developed during the present semester on the state of affairs of the bloc, with Uruguay maintaining a broad and comprehensive vision, with the objective of working on the consolidation and improvement of the free trade area.
The Lacalle Pou administration valued the commitment to continue working jointly and in coordination with the other States Parties, in order to contribute to the economic recovery of the bloc, as a result of the consequences caused by the covid-19 pandemic.
The communiqué posted on the Foreign Ministry's web page also underlined the consolidation and improvement of the free trade zone.
There was tension among Mercosur Presidents in Montevideo, particularly Lacalle and Argentina's Alberto Fernández who received from his host the scepter as pro-tempore head of the alliance for the next semester, a period expected to be shaky with Uruguay insisting on brokering its accession to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in addition to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China.
Uruguay's stance is said to clash with clauses in Mercosur's founding treaties preventing its member states from negotiating unilaterally with other countries or groups of countries without the participation of the entire bloc, although Lacalle views his government's actions as opening to the world and not a rupture.
The Uruguayan Foreign Ministry's statement also pointed out the need to establish mechanisms at Mercosur level that allow solving, definitively, the obstacles that distort trade among Party States, indicating that the restrictions contribute to deepening the asymmetries to the detriment of the economies of a smaller economic dimension.
Uruguay also pushed for the improvement of the free trade area, which proposes the elimination of all restrictions and equivalent measures applied in intra-bloc trade within a period of one year.
Mercosur's website published Tuesday a statement from all other member and associated states underlining the importance of increasing efforts to materialize regional projects in the field of physical, logistic and digital infrastructure with a view to achieving greater regional competitiveness and interconnectivity of the regions.