Brazil Sees Serious Hurdles to Economically Integrate Latin America

Brazil's Marco Aurélio Garcia According to the Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's foreign policy advisor Marco Aurélio Garcia, the lack of mechanisms to correct asymmetries and finance infrastructure projects are the biggest hurdles for Mercosur and Latin American integration.

"Integration can't be made to accentuate asymmetry. That's one of our main foreign policy problems," said Garcia in an interview with the financial publication Valor, admitting the high trade surplus of Brazil with almost all Latin American countries.

"We have not been able to advance sufficiently in national and multilateral instruments that could enable us to correct, even modestly the asymmetries problem," added Garcia.

President Lula's advisor recalled that the South Bank, which was originally created to help finance infrastructure projects, "still is a blueprint and the agreement still has to come."

"We assumed certain commitments at Unasur (Union of South American Nations) and Mercosur level, as well as at bilateral level, to develop infrastructure energy and civil construction projects, and most times we come up with non compatible means for those purposes," said Garcia.

He underlined that the credit system with guarantees is "rachitic" and Brazil's Economic and Social Development bank has been slow in becoming global while Brazilian private banks have been shy in international affairs.

However Garcia said that Brazil's preference of Latin American countries is correct, which allowed the region to become its main trade partner, as well as the destination of 50% of the country's exports.

"Brazil promotes integration with no political or ideological bias which enables us to have solid relations with Venezuela, Chile and Colombia," he pointed out.

Garcia also denied that Brazil's policies had generated hostilities in countries such as Bolivia, Paraguay or Ecuador, with which Brasí­lia has standing controversies over natural gas, electricity rates and public works construction projects, respectively.

"In Bolivia's case, the government decided to nationalize natural gas resources. We agree with that because it's the same model which we apply here in Brazil. Was there an exaggeration from Bolivia on militarizing Petrobras plants in Bolivia? Of course there was," underlined the advisor.

"In the two other cases we are open minded and willing to discuss issues."



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