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Montevideo, July 17th 2024 - 19:57 UTC



Mercosur not going through the best of times ahead of Asunción Summit

Monday, July 8th 2024 - 07:35 UTC
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Peña will be handing over the pro-tempore presidency of the bloc to Uruguay's Luis Lacalle Pou Peña will be handing over the pro-tempore presidency of the bloc to Uruguay's Luis Lacalle Pou

Paraguayan President Santiago Peña admitted that the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) was not going through the best of times as he prepared to host the bloc's Summit in Asunción Monday during which he is to hand over the grou's rotating presidency to Uruguay's Luis Lacalle Pou.

Also attending the gathering will be Presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Luis Arce Catacora of full members Brazil and Bolivia respectively.

Argentina's Javier Milei chose to dodge the event to avoid meeting face to face with either Lula or Arce. He called the former a “corrupt communist” during his 2023 camapign and has since refused to apologize while last week he insisted Arce had staged the June 26 unsuccessful coup d'état in La Paz to boost his dwindling image.

“In spite of all the comings and goings, the marches and counter-marches it has had, I believe in the integration model, Mercosur is our best platform, since the world moves based on economic blocs,” Peña insisted. “We will always be stronger if we negotiate together than separately,” he added while pledging to do his utmost to unite the regional bloc and make it much stronger in order to conquer the best markets in the world.

“Hopefully this Summit that we are going to celebrate on Monday will be the opportunity to reflect, at a time when Mercosur is clearly not going through its best moment,” he stressed.

Peña also highlighted the importance of the Paraná-Paraguay waterway as the main freight transport route and as a factor of competitiveness for the country. “We have been proposing a greater integration at the level of the five countries, because it is not only Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay, it also affects Brazil and Bolivia, that is why we are very concerned. For us, who are landlocked, the waterway is everything,” he reckoned.

As Montevideo prepares to lead the bloc, Foreign Minister Omar Paganini argued that Uruguay's task must be performed “against the backdrop of the digital revolution and the necessary energy transformation.”

“We will work as a realistic objective and at the level of economic integration, we have to propose to perfect Mercosur as a free trade zone,” he added while underlining the importance oof improving “logistics, transport, and connectivity infrastructure.”

“It is essential to deepen the external agenda, achieving better international insertion in a complex global context,” he also pointed out while praising Paraguay's achievements during the first semester of 2024 at the helm of the trade bloc, particularly for launching “negotiations with the United Arab Emirates.”

Paganini also addressed the issue of tariffs and other administrative matters hindering or preventing “reciprocal trade.”

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