Brazil and Neighbors Economic Bloc, Mercosur, Doesn’t Seem Viable the Way It Is

Mercosur's Carlos Alvarez Argentinean Carlos Alvarez, the president of the Standing Committee of Mercosur representatives said he feels frustrated with the workings of the South American trade group and proposes drastic changes since in the current global circumstances integration advances in the region could even turn negative.

"I'm not saying we're on the brink of extinction of Mercosur, but in the current context and how it is currently working, the block is very much limited and needs an urgent structural reform," said Carlos "Chacho" Alvarez who leaves his post at the end of the year.

The former Argentine vice president is scheduled to make a presentation on the issue during the coming Mercosur presidential summit next December 15/16 in Salvador, in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. Leaders from the four permanent members have confirmed their presence (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) plus associates Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

"The spirit of the proposal is the creation of permanent institutions, with technical staff who monitor and follow the issues, without having to hand their posts every six months as it happens currently, which impedes making decisions effective and their follow up," said a close aide of Alvarez, who is recovering from a heart condition.

"All presidents talk about creating a production chain of added value, articulate and complement the region's production, but Mercosur has no structures for such a goal, it's all basically inter-government communication," he added.

According to Alvarez Mercosur has been unable to solve conflicts, or gauge their impact because it has no formal structure. It's all left to the presidents, who currently rotate in the chair every six months. The next pro tempore chair will belong to Brazil that must also decide on a name to succeed Alvarez

"Ministers are left to coordinate actions and policies in the marginal time they have left from their own domestic agenda," underlined the Alvarez team.

The Alvarez proposal includes from a system of permanent high officials responsible for specific issues and areas to the parliament representation, more precisely how the distribution of benches should be carved, following a proportionality principle.

Under the current system the Mercosur Parliament has 18 benches per country which means Brazil and its population of 180 million has the same representation as Uruguay or Paraguay with their scarce millions.

Another crucial issue in the reforms is the possibility of a standing tribunal for controversies, which are abundant in Mercosur such as the asymmetry claims from Paraguay and Uruguay and the frontier problems disputes, for example Argentina and Uruguay over the construction of pulp mills, that remains unsolved now for over two years.

Mercopress

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