Paraguayan Foreign Minister Julio César Arriola Monday called for a more effective and efficient Mercosur during the bloc's two-day summit in Puerto Iguazu in the Argentine province of Misiones.
Arriola was participating in the Foreign Ministers' convention ahead of Tuesday's gathering during which Argentina's Alberto Fernández will pass on the pro tempore presidency of Mercosur to Brazil's Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The Paraguayan Minister asked his colleagues from Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay for a more effective and efficient integration and pointed out that it was urgent to simplify the migratory and customs procedures of the member countries.
Without free circulation of goods and services, deepening our productive integration becomes a chimera, Arriola stressed while calling for improving coordination and a more fluid dialogue because the strength of Mercosur lies in the cohesion of its members.
In line with Uruguayan Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo's speech, Arriola also noted that many Paraguayan products continue to have difficulties accessing the market of its partners, many times due to non-tariff restrictions, which seriously damage the credibility of the bloc.
We must not forget that our integration is also nourished by the free passage of our citizens and the opportunities that this generates for trade, Arriola argued.
He also underlined that the free navigability of international rivers is indispensable, highlighting the transcendental role of the Paraguay-Paraná waterway in facilitating trade between the countries of the region.
Regarding the trade agreement with the European Union (EU), Arriola said he was expectant for the definitive signing of the deal, which has been stalled by new demands. We remain confident that this process, which has been going on for more than two decades, can reach a good port in the short term, without losing the balance of what was agreed in 2019, Arriola said.
The Paraguayan official also hoped that negotiations with Singapore and the EFTA group (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland) materialize as soon as possible, since his country maintains that negotiating jointly is a guarantee to achieve the best results.