The Minister of Foreign Relations of Brazil, Celso Amorim, opened this morning, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, the 32nd Meeting of the Council of the Common Market, the first official activity of the Mercosur Summit, which ends tomorrow at Copacabana Palace hotel.
Amorim presented a report about the advances that have taken place in the bloc over the years and emphatically defended its current strength.
"The Mercosur is no longer property of the governments, it belongs to the societies, to the people of the Mercosur, who are going to guarantee that it will not fail," said the minister during the opening meeting that brings together foreign ministers in the economic area of the bloc and of guest countries.
Answering to critics, he said that the Mercosur recognizes its problems, seeks to solve them and is working to solve asymmetry, the word used to point the difference between the poorer members Uruguay and Paraguay and the richer ones like Brazil and Argentina.
As an example of the current strength of the bloc, Amorim mentioned the recent entry of Venezuela as a plain member. "This shows that the Mercosur is not just a process of integration of the Southern Cone, but of the whole of South America," he said.
To the Brazilian foreign minister, the entry of Venezuela, as well as bringing one more market, strengthens regional integration in the area of energy, as the country is a great producer of oil and provides the bloc with an access to the Caribbean Sea.
"It is natural for the so called 'market-skeptics' or 'market-critics' to become furious when something like this happens, as they see that we are strengthening ourselves," he declared.
Amorim also mentioned as an example a recent request of Bolivia to participate in the bloc, to be analyzed during the summit. To the minister, the Mercosur is "geopolitical and geo-economic", with the trade between the countries that are members having risen from between US$ 4 billion and US$ 5 billion in the early years of the bloc to the current US$ 25 billion.
"Few groups in the world presented such growth, especially among developing countries," he said.
He also pointed out the institutions instruments established to bring the Mercosur closer together, like the Mercosur Structural Convergence Fund (Focem) – a regional development fund that should have its first projects ratified during the Meeting of the Common Market -, the Mercosur Court – which is already in operation -, and more recently the bloc's Parliament.
Apart from internal questions, he also addressed matters connected to external relations of the bloc, among them the negotiations of a free trade agreement between the Mercosur and the GCC. The ministers who are meeting at the Copacabana Palace hotel are going to sign a declaration on the matter during the summit.
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