Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian presidential candidate handpicked by president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to succeed him, speaking before industry moguls made a strong defense of Mercosur and criticized the US sponsored Free Trade Area for the Americas.
“Mercosur is a regional market, not a free trade area, as the other candidate (José Serra) argues. I am in favor of strengthening Mercosur,” said Rousseff during a presentation before Brazil’s National Industry Confederation where she talked about economy, development and growth.
“I think Mercosur strengthens regional economies, it is most important for Brazil, I think it’s a win-win situation because we also have a greater negotiation capacity with third countries or parties,” added Ms. Rousseff.
“We can see no benefits for those countries that adopted free trade areas such as FTAA,” said the incumbent presidential candidate from the Workers Party of president Lula.
“Here we are in this meeting organized by Brazilian industry and it is important to acknowledge that one of the factors which enabled us to confront the 2008 economic crisis has been the diversification of our exports”, which before were concentrated in the European Union and United States markets added the former cabinet chief and Energy minister.
Ms Rousseff stance is contrary to some of Brazil’s strongest lobby organizations such as the São Paulo Federation of Industries, FIESP, which has repeatedly argued that Mercosur has turned into a “burden” since it impedes Brazil from signing trade and investment agreements with third countries because Mercosur works on unanimity.
Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay “should not condition Brazil, Latinamerica’s largest economy, negotiation capacity” is the base line of that position.
FIESP position is supported by opposition candidate and former governor of São Paulo, José Serra, who argues that Mercosur as currently organized, is more of a burden than a benefit for Brazil.
Serra and Rousseff are neck to neck according to the latest public opinion polls.
Brazilians will be going to the polls next October to elect the successor of President Lula, the most popular leader in the country in the last five decades.