December 22, 2014
Mercosur is expected to condemn vultures
CFK, Kicillof jet off for conclave; Kirchner, Chávez to be declared ‘distinguished citizens’
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Economy Minister Axel Kicillof jetted off to Caracas yesterday for the 46th Mercosur Summit, at which the head of state is expected to garner further diplomatic support for the Argentine cause against holdout hedge funds.
Diplomatic sources told the Herald that Brazil will propose that the trade bloc formally condemn Israel’s ongoing attack of Gaza, while late former Argentine and Venezuelan presidents Néstor Kirchner and Hugo Chávez will be declared distinguished Mercousur citizens.
The president departed to Venezuela from the Buenos Aires City Metropolitan Airport at 5.40pm aboard the Tango 01 presidential aeroplane, and was expected to touch down at 11pm Argentine time.
Until her return to the country, scheduled for tomorrow, Vice-President Amado Boudou will take her stead as acting president.
Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman yesterday expressed that “Argentina is committed to keep working on the consolidation of Mercosur during its pro tempore presidency” of the trade bloc.
Speaking during the foreign ministers’ summit in Venezuela yesterday, the Argentine official called for Mercosur countries to work together toward “equal and just rules so that sovereign debt restructuring processes can impede actions of vulture funds.”
“These actions by the vulture funds must mobilize us to work together decisively in a coordinated fashion for this profound reform,” he stated.
Timerman also highlighted the bloc’s progress in integrating Bolivia as a full member, recalling that “on July 2, by unanimous decision, the Argentine Lower House passed as law the bill on the approval of the (country’s) protocol of accession.”
Timerman was accompanied by Industry Minister Debora Giorgi; Trade Secretary Augusto Costa; Undersecretary for Foreign Trade Paula Español; the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary of Economic Affairs, Carlos Bianco; Strategic Planning Secretary Horacio Cepeda; and former Cabinet chief and Ambassador to Mercosur, Juan Manuel Abal Medina.
For her part, Giorgi argued that Mercosur’s mission was to “add value and strengthen the relations with the ALBA and Caribbean trade blocs, as well as with emerging markets both of large and middle sizes.”
Tension was seemingly in the air over the competition presented by the Pacific Alliance, comprised of Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico, which Giorgi made no reference to.
Chilean President Michele Bachelet cancelled her trip to Caracas at the last minute yesterday, citing only “internal affairs” as the reason she would not be attending.
Uruguayan Vice-President Danilo Astori sparked the debate over integration between the blocs in June when he said that “Mercosur musn’t be a terminal station,” calling for formal deals with the Pacific Alliance.
The Pacific trade bloc was founded in 2011 and staged its ninth summit on June 20.
Concern over the new bloc’s indirectly divisive effects arose from the attendance of Paraguayan Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga at the summit, staged in Punta Mita, Mexico.
Loizaga said the Pacific Alliance was “one of the most open (blocs) in the region that desires full integration, as well as the free circulation of goods, services, capital and people.”
EU trade deal
The Mercosur and the European Union are close to beginning the final round of negotiations on a free trade agreement, and further developments may be announced at today’s summit.
The EU’s ambassador in Argentina, Alfonso Diez Torres, told the Herald in June that the blocs were likely to be exchanging offers after the World Cup.
In an interview at the EU’s office in Recoleta, Diez Torres had noted that while European officials had already finished drafting the bloc’s offer, Mercosur was still working on the final details of its proposal.
The EU insists that ensuring preferential access to the European market could mean a big boost for Mercosur economies, considering the EU accounts for 20 percent of its total trade.
Herald with DyN, Télam