Mercosur
Mercosur foreign ministers pledge to overcome challenges as trade bloc celebrates 30 years
The event, which was organized by the Washington DC-based Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.

The foreign ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay marked the 30th anniversary of Mercosur on Friday with a pledge to continue to come together to overcome challenges and look abroad for economic opportunities.

The event, which was organized by the Washington DC-based Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, featured Felipe Carlos Solá, Argentina's Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship, Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ernesto Araújo, Paraguayan Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Euclides Acevedo Candia, and Francisco Bustillo Bonasso, Uruguay's Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Mercosur, which was formally established by the Treaty of Asunción in 1991, represents nearly 300 million citizens in the region and would be equivalent to the world's 5th largest economy.

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Speaking during the event, Argentina's Felipe Carlos Solá noted that three decades after the trade bloc was established, it must increase collaboration to meet a number of challenges, beginning with efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Despite technological advances, we don't know when the end will come," he said. "We've managed to do much in terms of research partnerships, migration, education and diagnostic treatments. It's helped, but it's not even close to dealing with the extent of the challenges." 

Mercosur, which was formally established by the Treaty of Asunción in 1991, represents nearly 300 million citizens in the region and would be equivalent to the world's 5th largest economy.

Mercosur, which was formally established by the Treaty of Asunción in 1991, represents nearly 300 million citizens in the region and would be equivalent to the world's 5th largest economy.

Additionally, Solá said that as an economic bloc, "the world doesn't know us as well as it could."

"Mercosur cannot just receive cookie cutter solutions imposed by the rest of the world," he added. "We want to reinforce our group identity. There is a convergence will enable us to enhance our power."

Other challenges highlighted by Solá include the rise of China, digital technology, artificial intelligence and the "weakening" of the multilateral trade system.

"Those all pose challenges for our country and Mercosur," he said. "None of that was imagined at the time Mercosur was established."

Similarly, Uruguayan Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Bustillo Bonasso noted that Mercosur needs to "ask itself what the international setting is in terms of all the different actors."

"We've seen a reconfiguration of the world order. We cannot ignore the role played by China. We've seen it the world over. The China phenomenon is a constant," he said. "We're seeing it in all regions, especially in Mercosur. It's going to be an economic tsunami." 

The United States, Bonasso added, should "listen" to Mercosur.

"It seems only China is listening to us and knocking on our doors," he said. "There's a value to Mercosur, and I believe the US needs to listen to us."

The 30th anniversary of Mercosur of comes amid a stalemate with the European Union, which has yet to ratify an agreement signed with the free trade bloc in June 2019.

On Friday, EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis said that the European Union is currently working with Mercosur on a number of additional commitments regarding deforestation and climate sustainability under the Paris agreement. "It is important to have such a deal," Dombrovskis said to French lawmakers.

At the Atlantic Council event, Solá said that the agreement "will give us a basis for continuing to work on our agenda." "We have a broad menu of options, but all tied to the central objectives of Mercosur," he said.

Brazil's Ernesto Araújo said that - contrary to the belief of some within the EU - the deal is not "purely agricultural." "It's strategic," he said. "We are ready to work with any new elements." 

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