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Montevideo, July 25th 2024 - 16:20 UTC

 

 

Lacalle Pou urges Mercosur unity, emphasizes importance of Milei's participation

Monday, July 8th 2024 - 16:50 UTC
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Lacalle Pou underscored the importance of Milei's participation in Mercosur, noting his absence from the summit. Lacalle Pou underscored the importance of Milei's participation in Mercosur, noting his absence from the summit.

During the Summit of Mercosur Heads of State and Associate Members, President Luis Lacalle Pou delivered a compelling speech emphasizing the significance of Mercosur and advocating for greater openness within the bloc. Uruguay is set to assume the pro tempore presidency of Mercosur, and Lacalle Pou used this opportunity to address pressing regional issues and international trade agreements, particularly focusing on the recent political changes in Argentina.

Lacalle Pou thanked the “Paraguayan people” and President Santiago Peña of Paraguay for their hospitality. He also extended solidarity to Bolivian President Luis Arce, who recently faced an attempted coup. “Uruguay can do nothing but show solidarity with the Bolivian people,” Lacalle Pou stated.

Emphasis on Javier Milei's Participation

A significant part of Lacalle Pou's address was dedicated to the recent change in Argentina's government with the inauguration of Javier Milei. Lacalle Pou underscored the importance of Milei's participation in Mercosur, noting his absence from the summit. “If Mercosur is so important, we should all be there,” he stated, highlighting the need for unity and active involvement from all member countries, including Argentina under Milei's new administration.

Bilateral Relations and Trade

Highlighting Uruguay's positive bilateral relations, particularly with Brazil, Lacalle Pou cited significant collaborative projects such as the new bridge over the Yaguarón River and developments at the Rivera airport. However, he underscored that 70% of Uruguayan trade occurs outside Mercosur, illustrating the need for broader trade partnerships.

Reflecting on Uruguay's past trade challenges during Kirchnerist governments in Argentina, Lacalle Pou noted, “Uruguay was a victim of a tremendous substitution of imports. I know that the current government is working to recover that.”

Call for Resumption of FTA Talks with China

A major focus of Lacalle Pou's address was the need to resume Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with China. “The proposal we are going to make is to resume the mechanisms of dialogue with China,” he announced. Emphasizing the strategic importance of this move, he added, “Uruguay's proposal is not whimsical; it is that we needed to move forward.”

Critique of EU-Mercosur FTA Negotiations

Lacalle Pou also critiqued the slow progress of the FTA between Mercosur and the European Union, particularly pointing out France's repeated calls for renegotiation. “It hinders progress. I believe that if we take a picture of Mercosur and the European Union, we are much more prepared to move forward,” he argued. He further stated, “I believe that ideology is damaging the union between Mercosur and the European Union.”

Emphasis on Mercosur Unity

Lacalle Pou concluded his speech with a call for unity among member countries to seek agreements with other blocs, aligning his message with that of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. “I have little time left, but until the last, I will insist, not only as something we need; for me, we have an opportunity,” he declared. “That will be my voice until the last day.”

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