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Uruguay Wants Mexico in Mercosur to Counterbalance Brazil

Uruguay wants Mexico to join Mercosur so a "better internal balance" can be achieved, said President Tabare Vazquez in Mexico City.

During a joint press conference with Mexican President Vicente Fox, Mr. Vazquez also pointed out Uruguay will not support Washington’s proposal for a Free Trade Area of the Americas until the United States and Canada agree to end farm subsidies.

Vazquez said that Mercosur, currently in the process of integrating Venezuela, would be "a better and more balanced bloc" if it included Mexico, which already has a free-trade pact with Uruguay and specific sector agreements with Argentina and Brazil.

Uruguay seeks "a better Mercosur, not this one that doesn’t serve us; we would like to see a Mercosur that responds to the heterogeneous conditions of the different countries and to the objective of an integration that serves everyone", underlined Vazquez who nevertheless insisted that the regional bloc is a strategic priority for Uruguay.

Uruguay’s economy has suffered considerably from the turbulences of its "giant" Mercosur partners: in 1999 with the devaluation of the Brazilian currency and in 2001/02 with the melting of the Argentine economy.

"We believe that to achieve better internal balance in Mercosur we need the participation of countries like Mexico, and hence we are strongly supporting its entry," said the Uruguayan president.

Conservative president Fox said that Mexico "does not hide its great interest" in joining Mercosur. Indeed, he has said in the past that he would like to see his country accepted into the Southern Cone bloc this year, the last of his six-year term.

On the subject of the U.S.-promoted Free Trade Area of the Americas, FTAA, Vazquez was pessimistic, saying that his country will continue to stand with Argentina and Brazil in opposing the idea unless the rich countries give up their agricultural subsidies.

Fox, a great enthusiast for the FTAA, got into a heated spat over the proposed accord last year with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, who accuses the U.S. of attempting "neo-colonialism" in Latin America.

Mercopress – www.mercopress.com

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