With the tension between neighbors as a common denominator, and without progress and with differences, Mercosur partners decided to suspend again the meeting of foreign ministers, scheduled for tomorrow. There is still no date for an upcoming meeting. The original meeting, scheduled for last Tuesday, was postponed a week to bring the parties closer together on the easing and tariffs, but the conversations did not prosper.
The generalized reduction proposed by Brazil of the Common External Tariff (AEC) and flexibility for unilateral agreements with third countries, proposed by Uruguay, are the two points of divergence with Argentina, vital for the continuity of the regional bloc. Without agreement on those two items, the meeting was meaningless, and most likely they will be resumed only when Argentina leaves him the presidency pro-tempore to Brazil, in the second half of the current year.
From the Foreign Ministry, the explanations pointed towards the “ideologization” that they attribute so much to the government of Jair bolsonaro like to Luis Lacalle Pou. “There are highly ideological positions on the side of Uruguay and the (Minister of Economy of Brazil, Pablo) Guedes”, They explained from the offices of the Argentine Foreign Minister Felipe Solá.
In relation to the bid with Brazil for tariffs -which Guedes intends to lower completely- Argentina made a counterproposal days ago, which includes a 10 percent decrease in 75 percent of products (especially inputs) from 2022, preserving sectors that the Government considers key such as automotive and textiles.
“We want to connect to the world, not open up,” said a diplomatic source, and recalled that “already with Menem and Macri the indiscriminate opening failed,” according to official sources. The Argentine ambassador to Brazil, Daniel Scioli, recently won public support from former presidents Luis Inacio Lula da Silva Y Fernando Henrique Cardoso placeholder image, a gesture that did not go unnoticed by the Brazilian government.
In addition, it is still unknown whether last week’s rhetorical slip by Alberto Fernández on the offspring of Brazilians will have a negative impact on the commercial relationship with Brazil. For now there were only challenging and ironic responses from Bolsonaro, who compared the Argentine president with the Venezuelan Nicolas Maduro.
Regarding the dispute with Uruguay, the Foreign Ministry pointed out that the recent Mercosur meeting with South Korea in search of an agreement after a year and a half of paralysis “shows that it is not true that the world is waiting to make agreements” and what easing could do more harm than good.
Also close to Solá they pointed out that the fourth partner, Paraguay, accompanies the Argentine proposal, which generates some internal fissure also in Brazil, between Itamaraty and the more liberal positions of Guedes.
Tensions, 30 years after the birth of Mercosur, seem to be the constant. Without direct dialogue with Bolsonaro and the remembered exchange with Lacalle Pou in the last meeting of presidents, in which the Uruguayan president spoke of leaving the “burdens” aside to advance agreements and Fernández invited him to “abandon ship”, the The future of the regional bloc appears with serious clouds on the horizon.