Brazil hopes to resolve this week the diplomatic flap caused by Argentina's
decision to impose restrictions on imports of Brazilian home appliances, on
the eve of the Mercosur summit meeting.
According to the Minister
of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade, Luiz Fernando Furlan, the Argentinean
restrictions will only take effect after they are regulated, which has still
of the Brazilian and Argentinean governments and appliance manufacturers will
meet this week in Buenos Aires to discuss this matter, the Minister said that
he is optimistic and hopes the Argentineans refrain from applying the restrictions.
"After this meeting,
the Argentinean government will evaluate whether regulation will be necessary,"
Furlan pointed out.
According to the Minister,
the President of Argentina, Néstor Kirchner, expressed willingness
to negotiate with the Brazilian government over sticking points in trade between
the two countries.
In two weeks, a new meeting
between Brazilians and Argentineans will be scheduled for each side to expound
its desires in the trade sphere, so that the two can seek common ground.
government should present Brazil with the aspects it considers relevant to
its development, and, from there, we shall try to discover points we have
in common," Furlan said.
According to the Minister,
the idea is to avoid trade disputes and search for amicable solutions to impasses.
"We have to take a global view of the Mercosur, rather than remain sparring
over temporary issues," Furlan argued.
In his opinion, Argentina
felt that its industrial park needs refurbishing, since the country is growing,
and the same thing is happening in Brazilthat is why the neighboring
country decided to limit imports from Brazil.
Brazil's Minister of Finance,
Antônio Palocci, endorsed Furlan's words. For Palocci, when the economy
is growing, productive activities are reactivated, and it is natural for trade
disputes to occur.
"It is important
for a dialogue to exist between the governments. These controversies do not
impede composing a ample negotiation," he said.
Furlan emphasized that
the Brazilian government is not treating the trade dispute with Argentina
with "emotionality." "Emotional discussion is always very impassioned,"
Palocci and Furlan, who
were in Argentina for the Mercosur's summit, spent hours presenting figures
on Brazilian home appliance exports to Argentina in recent months to the Argentinean
Minister of the Economy, Roberto Lavagna. According to Furlan, these sales
have been perfectly normal.
As for the threat made
on July 7 by the Argentinean President, Kirchener, to impose restrictions
on other Brazilian products, especially in the textile sector, Palocci had
recourse to the Old Testament to define his point of view.
"Each day with its
own tribulation," he commented ironically. In Palocci's opinion, it would
be premature to discuss a question that hasn't even arisen yet.
For his part, Minister
Furlan said it would be a "bucket of cold water," if the Argentineans
decided to restrict imports of Brazilian textile goods. "Some months
ago the Brazilian textile sector was the subject of an extensive process of
negotiations. If the two countries fail to honor the commitments assumed in
the negotiations, it would represent a bucket of cold water for us Brazilians,"
President Luiz Inácio
Lula da Silva affirmed that he does not consider Argentina's restrictions
on imports of Brazilian household appliances a problem. "This is the
result of growth in the economy and growth in trade relations between the
two countries," the President declared at the conclusion of the 26th
Summit Meeting of Mercosur Heads of State.
"God grant that other
problems arise in consequence of our economic growth. What is important is
for Brazil and Argentina to be aware that Brazilian industry and Argentinean
industry need to grow," the President remarked.
Lula said that he confides
in the efforts of the two countries' Ministers to resolve the problem.
Luiz also called for flexibility
to overcome disagreements among the economic bloc's member countries. "Flexibility
was and continues to be necessary to meet demands stemming from disagreements
among the member States," he affirmed.
According to the President,
in order to strengthen the customs union and construct the common market envisioned
in the Assunción Treaty, which created the Mercosur, it is essential
to deepen and expand the bloc in such areas as services and government purchases.
For President Lula, the development of the Mercosur cannot be solely in national
terms; it must have a regional dimension.
has to be the prosperity of our partners in the region. The Brazilian economy
has entered the phase of solid growth. Conditions are in place to expand exchange
and cooperation with our neighbors," he affirmed.
After praising the leadership
exercised by Argentina, which occupied the temporary presidency of the Mercosur
during the past six months, he recalled that, after 10 years of negotiations,
the bloc is moving in the direction of integration with the Andean countries.
"What seemed impossible is happening. The Mercosur is not indifferent
to our Latin America," he remarked.
Lula expressed his satisfaction
with the participation of Mexican President, Vicente Fox, in the encounter,
and he said that he awaits that country's speedy entry into the bloc as an
Chile, Bolivia, and Peru
are already associated members. Mexico's entry still depends upon negotiations.
Lula also highlighted the presence of Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez,
at the event.
The President mentioned
the negotiations in which the Mercosur is engaged with India, South Africa,
Egypt, China, and Japan, and he declared that Brazil is assuming command of
the Mercosur with a sense of "responsibility and urgency."
For Lula, the Mercosur
is more than just a project for the negotiation of tariffs and free trade
among the member countries. He said that the bloc must take advantage of new
and advanced fields of knowledge.
"In this respect,
Brazil is willing to share with its Mercosur partners the benefits it derives
from nuclear energy and space exploration."
Court for Disputes
From now on the Mercosur
will have a court of last resort to judge trade disputes among the bloc's
member countries (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay)the Permanent
Appeals Court. The organ was instituted at the 26th Mercosur Summit
Meeting, which ended July 8 in Puerto Iguazú, Argentina.
The summit meeting gathered
the heads of State and Ministers from the four countries and the three associated
States (Chile, Bolivia, and Peru), as well as the Presidents of Venezuela,
Hugo Chávez, and Mexico, Vincente Fox, who were there as official guests.
Up to now, when member
countries disagreed over trade questions, the Court of Arbitration was called
on to analyze the impasse. However, if a party was dissatisfied with the Court's
decision, it had to direct its appeal to other international forums, such
as the World Trade Organization (WTO).
With the Permanent Court,
countries will no longer need to seek other venues for their appeals. The
Court, which will be based in Assunción, Paraguay, should begin to
function in the coming months, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign
In addition to the Court,
the Mercosur Presidents approved President Hugo Chávez's request to
admit Venezuela to the economic bloc as an associate member. Venezuela's entry
should be made official after its free trade agreement with theMercosur is
registered with the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI).
Mexico also submitted
an entry request, which received the backing of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio
Lula da Silva. In his address at the Summit Meeting, President Lula pointed
out that he and his Mexican colleague, Vicente Fox, acted together to begin
negotiations for Mexico's membership in the bloc.
Some details of the free
trade agreement between Mexico and the Mercosur have yet to be concluded.
Therefore, Mexico will only be accepted into the bloc after the agreement
At the meeting, Brazil
took over the temporary presidency of the Mercosur from Argentina, for a term
that lasts six months. The bloc's heads of State will meet again in December,
in Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais. On this occasion Brazil will pass the command
of the bloc to Paraguay.
Democracy for Bolivia
President Lula urged Bolivia
to take the path to democracy, calling it the best instrument for economic
and political recovery. Last October, Bolivia went through a political crisis,
which resulted in the resignation of president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada
as a popular uprising raged throughout the country.
During a speech at a ceremony
celebrating the signing of agreements with Bolivia, Lula declared that the
decision by President Carlos Mesa (who substituted Sanchez de Lozada) to hold
a referendum on the country's energy policy next week and municipal elections
in December "will make it possible for Bolivia to discover what its population
Lula went on to say that
"At this moment, when Bolivia gathers strength, it can count on the friendship
of the government and people of Brazil. That is the message we sent Bolivia
last year during its crisis, and that is the message we send now. That friendship
also underlies these agreements we sign today."
Lula concluded by saying
that Latin America needs a "Bolivia that is democratic, prosperous and
united... a country based on the dreams of Bolivar who wanted borders to bring
people together, not separate them," said the Brazilian President.
Carlos Mesa endorsed those
words, saying that democracy was the only mechanism that would enable Bolivia
to get back on track. "We want democracy to be the crucial issue in our
future," he declared, adding that he still intends to convoke a Constitutional
Gabriela Guerreiro works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press
agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at email@example.com.
from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.