Brazil's Senate Tuesday greenlighted Bolivia's accession to the South American Common Market (Mercosur) as a full member of the bloc. Once President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva enacts the bill, the regional alliance will once again consist of five full members -in addition to Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay- as it once happened when Venezuela was admitted but later suspended in 2017 for its undemocratic practices.
Currently, Bolivia is an associated state to Mercosur, as are Chile, Peru, and Colombia. Lula, who also holds the pro tempore president of Mercosur, is expected to formalize the announcement during the Dec. 7 Summit in Rio de Janeiro when he will pass the baton on to Paraguay.
Only 2 of the 81 Brazilian senators opposed Bolivia's entry. Brazil was the only country left to ratify Bolivia's accession, which will now require the new member to abide by all Mercosur rules within the next four years, including the Mercosur Common Nomenclature, the Common External Tariff, and the bloc's rules of origin.
Bolivia's full membership brings on the opening or expansion of the market for Brazilian companies, with the possibility of using cheaper energy, remembering that Brazil and Argentina are already Bolivia's main trading partners, said Senator Chico Rodrigues, of Vice President Geraldo Alckmin's Brazilian Socialist Party.
The Brazilian Senate also approved a motion to send a delegation to La Paz within the next 180 days to verify Bolivia's compliance with Mercosur's democratic clause.
According to Brazilian media, Mercosur reached a free trade agreement with Singapore, which will be announced at the Rio de Janeiro summit.