Economy ministers from Brazil and Argentina meeting in Buenos Aires said that they are optimistic that both countries can reach agreements to overcome trade differences.
Brazil’s Finance Minister, Antonio Palocci and his Argentine counterpart, Roberto Lavagna held a press conference also attended by Venezuela’s economy minister, Nelson Merentes, at which energy issues were discussed.
Shortly before the conference Palocci and Lavagna had held a meeting with President Néstor Kirchner in Government House.
“Interesting progress has been made,” Lavagna said in response to a question on the status of Argentina’s complaints about trade asymmetries with Brazil.
“We made a first proposal in September 2004 and received a counteroffer from Brazil. This year we made a new offer and received a reply from Brazil that has narrowed the differences,” Lavagna said.
The Minister added that “shortly there will be a technical meeting to analyze codes of conduct and competition clauses.”
Palocci said he agreed with Lavagna. “We are optimistic. The current trade spats will each time be less”.
Although neither minister gave details of the negotiation Palocci commented that “we shouldn’t talk of safeguards” in reference to the sorts of measures applied by Argentina in the past.
The Mercosur trade bloc is scheduled to hold a presidential summit in Asunción this weekend.
Although there was no official statement made, President Kirchner is reported to have raised the issue of the energy crisis in the southern cone with Palocci, an issue that he raised with Chilean President Ricardo Lagos at a meeting last week.
Lavagna denied that the ministers had discussed setting up a new South American bank although he said that they had discussed the functioning “of development and financing banks in the recent past” in the respective countries.
“We analyzed some ideas about new financing methods. Rather than suggest new structures at the moment we analyzed those that exist and how they can be improved,” Lavagna said.
In related news and as a run up to the summit in Asunción, Paraguay’s Foreign Minister Leila Rachid complained that Paraguay is becoming increasingly isolated from the globalization of trade.
Paraguay is a country “where there aren’t that many business opportunities”, Rachid said in indirect reference to the definite closing of the British Embassy and the French decision to close its trade office in Asunción.
This article appeared originally in Mercopress – www.mercopress.com.