Brazil Committed to Steer Mercosur Toward the EU, Africa and Middle East

During the summit of the countries of the Mercosur, the Common Market of the South, held this Friday, July 21, in Cordoba, Argentina, Brazil took the post heading the rotating presidency of the group for the next six months.

In this period, according to information from the Itamaraty, the Brazilian Foreign Office, the plan is to strengthen the negotiations of the trade agreements with other blocs, like the European Union, the Southern African Customs Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

According to the joint communiqué released at the end of the meeting, the heads of state of the South American bloc have manifested their wish in "concluding on the short term the negotiations for an agreement with the GCC".

The negotiations with the group that includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman, started during the Summit for South American and Arab Countries, in May last year, when a framework agreement was signed between the two blocs.

According to the final declaration of the Cordoba meeting, the Mercosur emphasized its commitment to "expand and intensify the trade bonds with different countries and groups of countries in other regions, as a means of opening new markets and obtaining a greater projection of the bloc as a player in the international scenario."

With Venezuela’s entry in the bloc, the Mercosur, which already counted on Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, now has 250 million inhabitants, a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) above US$ 1 trillion and a trade volume of over US$ 300 billion, according to the Itamaraty.

The GCC countries, in turn, have a total GDP of US$ 576.8 billion, a population of 36.5 million people and global trade of US$ 510.4 billion, including exports and imports.

Sales from Brazil, which is the greatest country in the Mercosur, to the six Gulf countries yielded US$ 1.18 billion in the first semester of the year. The main products shipped were poultry, airplanes, sugar, iron ore and soy. The country imported from the bloc, during the same period, the equivalent to US$ 1.02 billion, especially in oil and oil products.

Participation

Participating in the meeting at the end of last week were the presidents of Argentina, Néstor Kirchner, of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, of Paraguay, Nicanor Duarte Frutos, of Uruguay, Tabaré Vázquez, and of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez. Venezuela joined the Mercosur as a full member on the 4th of July.

Participating too were the presidents of Bolivia, Evo Morales, and Chile, Michelle Bachelet, the vice-president of Ecuador, Alejandro Serrano Aguilar, the Foreign Minister of Peru, Oscar Maurtua, and a representative of the government of Colombia. These countries are associated to the Mercosur, but not full members.

As guests, there was also the participation of the president of Cuba, Fidel Castro, the Foreign Minister of Mexico, Luiz Ernesto Derbez and the minister of Trade of Pakistan, Humayun Katar. The Mercosur signed an agreement of economic complementation with Cuba and a framework agreement with Pakistan, setting the start of negotiations for a commercial treaty.

Anba – www.anba.com.br

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