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"The external negotiations agenda will contribute to modernizing MERCOSUR", the Lacalle administration argued.
Although Uruguay has not formally left the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), President Luis Lacalle on Wednesday announced that his nation will begin to negotiate with countries outside this integration agreement.
To justify this decision, his administration said that its external negotiations agenda will contribute to modernizing MERCOSUR by allowing one of its countries to conclude trade agreements with agility and flexibility.
Regarding the MERCOSUR 32/00 resolution, which prevents partners from advancing in agreements with third parties without the endorsement of the rest of bloc members, Uruguay holds that it is not in force since “it was never internalized”.
Although Uruguay is effectively ignoring a fundamental regulation in any regional integration agreement, its Foreign Affairs Ministry holds this South American country continues to be a full member of MERCOSUR.
Argentina, which held the MERCOSUR Pro Tempore Presidency this semester, rejected Lacalle’s decision. Foreign Affairs Minister Felipe Sola said that the bloc’s consolidation and joint action are key to a profitable insertion of its members in global markets.
For the last 6 months, President Alberto Fernandez has worked to strengthen the unity of this regional integration agreement. In June, he reaffirmed his country’s commitment to promote economic and social development, the eradication of hunger and poverty and the improvement of the quality of life of Latin American peoples.
However, this effort could easily be diluted as the temporary presidency passes to Brazil, a country where Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly made clear his animosity toward counter-hegemonic economic integration and his preference for U.S.-style free trade agreements.