Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva said Wednesday in Montevideo that he agreed to open up Mercosur and pursue a free trade agreement (FTA) with China.
It is important to open up as much as possible for the business world. I want to say to the president that regarding the ideas of innovation, of openness, we are in complete agreement, Lula said in a statement alongside Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou.
What do we need to do to modernize Mercosur? Lula wondered. We want to sit down at the table first with our technicians, then with our ministers, and finally with the presidents so that together we can renew what needs to be renewed, the Workers' Party leader explained.
It is urgent and necessary for Mercosur to make an agreement with the European Union, Lula also said while recalling that during his first presidency (2003) the Mercosur and European Union agreement was already being discussed.
In my second term, it was also being discussed, he went on. I was out of the presidency for eight years, I returned for a third term, and the Mercosur-European Union agreement is [still] being discussed, he argued.
We are going to intensify the discussions with the European Union and sign this agreement, Lula told Lacalle. They had both attended the Celac Summit in the Argentine capital the day before.
Despite the fact that Brazil is a great trade ally of China and that Brazil has a large surplus with China we want to talk about Mercosur discussing with our Chinese friends a Mercosur-China agreement, Lula also said.
Lula arrived in Montevideo Wednesday morning from Buenos Aires. He was welcomed by Deputy Foreign Minister Nicolás Albertoni and then driven to the Suárez y Reyes presidential residence, where he met Lacalle at 12.30 pm local time.
After their private meeting, Lula told reporters that he believed in multilateralism, and considered Lacalle's move to reach an FTA with China to be fair, since he wishes to promote the interests of his people and his economy.
My relationship as head of state has no ideological bias. The presidents do not need to think like me, nor like me from a personal point of view. The relationship between heads of state must respect the sovereignty of each country and the interest of doing good for the people, Lula said on Twitter.
He also pointed out that Brazil seeks to strengthen the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) and the Union of South American Nations (Unasur).
Later in the day, Lula was to meet with Montevideo Mayor Carolina Cosse as well as with former President José Mujica and his wife, former Vice President Lucía Topolasnky. The Brazilian leader left Buenos Aires without meeting with Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK).