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Montevideo, June 24th 2024 - 18:43 UTC

 

 

Uruguay: Mujica says apology to China over OPVs is in order

Monday, August 14th 2023 - 10:14 UTC
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“The Chinese market cannot be ignored,” Mujica argued “The Chinese market cannot be ignored,” Mujica argued

Former Uruguayan President José Mujica said the current head of state Luis Lacalle Pou should apologize to China for the sloppiness in the purchase of two Ocean Patrol Vessels (OPVs) for the South American country's Navy from Spanish shipyard Cardama.

The Chinese state-owned company Shipbuilding Trade (CSTC) sent a letter to the Defense Committee of the Uruguayan Senate questioning the purchase made by the Uruguayan government.

“It is a diplomatic mistake, a lack of knowledge of how the Chinese proceed. They write down everything, they are neat. To go and talk to a Chinese diplomat is to know that there are three or four people who are listening over there and taking note of everything, down to the last detail. The Chinese send ambassadors who speak Spanish and who were previously educated in Latin American universities. They do not improvise anything. They are not like the Americans who send us an ambassador who does not speak a word of Spanish. They don't make those mistakes,” Mujica was quoted as saying by news outlets in Montevideo.

He also said this incident should not affect the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Lacalle wants to achieve but “a slap on the wrist” was to be expected.

“If I were the president I would apologize,” Mujica argued. “Because it is convenient; the Chinese market cannot be ignored... If it doesn't buy [from us], it punches a hole in us,” the leftwing leader insisted.

Earlier this month, Uruguayan Navy Admiral Gustavo Musso applied for his retirement from active duty over the controversy involved in awarding Cardama the US$ 92 million contract.

CSTC had participated in the first bidding process in 2021 which was deserted after all proposals exceeded the Defense Ministry's US$ 120 million budget. China's was the cheapest, at US$ 168 million. When a new call for bids was issued, China lowered its price and made itself available to negotiate.

Musso had drafted a report in May in which he concluded that the best offer was that of the Spanish shipyard Godan, followed by the shipyards Cotecmar, from Colombia, and Kership, from France, the South Korean Hyundai, and then Cardama.

CSTC argued that the specifications “were never defined” in the second call. “We went from an 89-page document with requirements, guarantees, weighting factors, evaluation scores, etc., to receiving the requirements by telephone or by a note of less than half a page.” The company insisted that it had submitted a second bid in accordance with the available budget.

Categories: Politics, International, Uruguay.

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