In the last hours the government moved chips For try iron out tensions in front of the onslaught of Uruguay, which seeks explicit commitments in a plan of external flexibility of Mercosur and another to lower the common external tariff of the bloc.
The government of Luis Lacalle Pou has the endorsement of Jair Bolsonaro, but Argentina now, as pro tempore president of the region, does his game.
On the one hand, Foreign Minister Felipe Solá called on Monday at the last minute his colleagues from Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay to a face-to-face meeting of foreign ministers in Buenos Aires, for June 8, subject to the vicissitudes of pandemic restrictions in Argentina.
On the other hand, Ambassador Daniel Scioli received the new Foreign Minister, Carlos França, and also the Secretary for Strategic Affairs of the Presidency, Flavio Viana Rocha, at the Argentine residence in Brasilia.
Scioli already knew Minister França – who replaced the more surly Ernesto Araujo – since he was head of protocol in the Brazilian government palace, and Viana da Rocha is his permanent contact with Bolsonaro.
This is how Solá and Scioli carry the lack of link between Alberto Fernández and the Brazilian. A problem to which the personal fight that Fernández also had with Lacalle Pou in a virtual summit of Mercosur, on March 26. The Argentine crossed the Uruguayan for his criticism of the block’s paralysis.
In the last meeting of last week, the eastern minister Francisco Bustillo made official a series of points that Uruguayans demand to lay the foundations of the bloc’s new commercial agenda, in one of whose points, the 8th, they ask that a country can open negotiations with third countries and groups of countries, even if a member of Mercosur does not want to or says that it cannot.
Currently the regulations prohibit it and for the Argentine government, point eight of Uruguay breaks with the customs union.
Uruguayans want not only to accelerate the treaty signed with the European Union and to advance with EFTA. They want to step on the accelerator in pursuit of agreements with Korea, Canada, Lebanon, Singapore and others, and open negotiations with the United States, China and the United Kingdom. All sensitive issues for Argentina, but also for Brazil.
A few days ago, Solá, aligned with his colleague from Paraguay, had spoken with França by phone and at the regional level began a series of internal consultations to see how the talks with Brazil will progress. Although Brazilians think the same as Uruguay on the two major issues -external tariff and external relations-, it could talk about industrial aspects of the negotiation of both the common external tariff and the trade agreements that are sought to be activated. In turn, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, Itamaraty, has a less liberal bias than the Economy Ministry under Paulo Guedes.
“We are going to insist on looking for the necessary convergences. In case this is not achieved, I hope we can find a way to make the issue more flexible. But we will not give up, because we are at 75% convergence. Brazil has an industrial structure. with weaknesses and sensitivities like the ones we have, “he said in an interview with Clarion last Sunday the secretary of International Economic Relations, Jorge Neme, national coordinator of Argentina.
The truth is that in the technical meetings that have been held via zoom, the Government is reluctant to open free trade agreements but negotiates especially with Brazil how to lower an external tariff of the considered block of the highest in the world, with an average of 12 to 14% but higher in some specific cases.
He knew Clarion that in the conversations that are being held with Brazil, that country proposed to lower the amount of products covered by the common tariff by one hundred percent and Paraguay, by 90%. Uruguay agrees with Brazil and Argentina and finally offered to stretch to 75% of the products because it considers that there is 25% of the industry that cannot go down. They point out that there “The disagreement is small.”
But what would not be negotiable for Argentina is the External Negotiations Plan that Uruguay presented last Monday, and especially point 8.
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