According to Press release issued last nightTuesday, May 24, 2016
Argentina suggests countries may still go their different ways on trade
Despite the clear harmony at a political level and what can be read as theoretical coincidences over the direction of foreign trade, the different needs of the Mauricio Macri and Michel Temer administrations came to light yesterday.
During the press conference offered at the Brazilian Embassy of his country yesterday evening, Foreign Minister José Serra made clear his objective that the Mercosur be open to bilateral free-trade agreements with other countries or blocs. That is a big shift toward a system where each member could establish preferential agreements with their counterparts. For instance, Brazil may go forward to a free-trade agreement with the United States despite the opinion of its partners in the Mercosur.
The regional bloc is a customs union which imposes external tariffs on all members (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela). Even though Serra said the new approach would be implemented as soon as possible ( “we’re ruling,” he clarified), negotations with other countries will still take many months, he added.
Such flexibility over trade deals is interpreted differently by Argentina’s Foreign Ministry, according to the statement issued yesterday by Susana Malcorra’s office.
The press release “reaffirmed the willingness of this country ... to carry out joint negotiations with third countries and groups of countries”, and called on members to “respect the commitments of the bloc.”
The Mauricio Macri administration has signalled a closer approach to that of the Pacific Alliance countries, whose outlook on foreign trade is different to the majority of the Mercosur trade bloc, preferring less protectionist policies and a closer relationship with the United States.
Malcorra highlighted the ongoing negotiations with the European Union as an example to follow.