Argentine authorities criticized Luis Lacalle Pou's decision to begin analyzing with China the viability of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
The Argentinean government criticized the negotiations that Uruguay's President Luis Lacalle began on Monday to achieve a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China as they are contrary to the regulations of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR).
Uruguayan authorities defend the negotiations assuring that the decision is being made without violating any MERCOSUR rule.Lacalle recalled his intention to increase the openness of his country within the framework of MERCOSUR; however, he also said that if this was not possible, then his country would try to increase its external relations autonomously.
Argentina's Minister of Productive Development, Matias Kulfas, explained that MERCOSUR countries cannot negotiate FTAs individually. In this sense, it is important to mention that Resolution 32, signed by Mercosur countries in 2000, prevents individual negotiations with third countries.
"It is clear that Uruguay is a sovereign country and can make the decision it deems most convenient. Uruguay can make a bilateral agreement with China outside Mercosur or it can remain in Mercosur. Mercosur regulations are very clear, agreements are made as a block, not unilaterally." Kulfas said.
Uruguay does not recognize Resolution 32, arguing that it is not a rule that was internalized by the legislative powers of each country, therefore it cannot be considered valid.
China is currently Uruguay's main trading partner. According to 2020 data, the main destinations for Uruguayan exports are China (27 percent), Brazil (15 percent), the European Union (14 percent), the United States (7 percent), Argentina (5percent), and Mexico (3 percent).
The presidents of Argentina and Uruguay will meet again at the next Mercosur summit in Brasilia in mid-December, even if today the tension between these countries is running high.