Brazil & Co Welcome Venezuela as Mercosur’s Fifth Member

The Mercosur is about to get its fifth member. Tomorrow, July 4, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim will participate in a special session of the trade bloc in Caracas.

The meeting will formalize the accession to Mercosur of Venezuela, which will be joining Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. Bolivia is an associate member of the bloc.

The free trade agenda discussed for the entry of Venezuela foresees that Brazil will plainly open its economy to the new member in January 2010.

Venezuela, in turn, will open their markets to the Brazilians in January 2012. But for both Brazil and Venezuela, "sensitive products" may only be integrated to the free trade economy in January 2014.

The head of the Department of Integration of South America at the Itamaraty, the Brazilian Foreign Office, ambassador José Antônio Marcondes Carvalho, qualified as "extremely important" Venezuela’s joining the bloc, due to the geographic expansion of the common market.

In his point of view, the Venezuelans will "revigorate" the Mercosur by bringing "new horizons in the international scenario". And speed up the agenda for the free trade agreements with the Andean countries.

The presidents of the other Mercosur member countries will also be present, together with Evo Morales, president of Bolivia.

Morales stated that he intends to meet with Lula to discuss the sales price of Bolivian natural gas, which has been a bone of contention since Bolivia nationalized its reserves.

The Brazilian foreign ministry informs, however, that the Brazilian president’s agenda has yet to be decided.

The Venezuelan protocol of adhesion was signed in June by the member countries’ foreign ministers. It will now be ratified by the presidents.

The document defines the obligations, the stages of the integration process, and the deadlines for applying the bloc’s common external tariff (CET) and liberalizing trade with the other members.

ABr

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