MONTEVIDEO – South America’s Mercosur trade bloc must resolve its internal problems before an eventual trade deal with the European Union can be finalized, a member of Eurochamber Argentina’s board said on Wednesday.
Federico Kade referred to those issues during a panel discussion on the first day of the 1st European Investment Forum in Uruguay, an event held in Montevideo.
He said an eventual agreement between Mercosur and the EU was generating a great deal of expectation and would force the South American bloc’s member countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) to resolve their internal differences.
“We all know the problems we’ve had lately within Mercosur, among its countries. They need to be solved to reach a free-trade agreement,” Kade said.
In that regard, he said the trade deal would force the Mercosur nations to fulfill their obligations.
“There can’t be a situation where two countries cut off their borders like they did in the past,” Kade said, referring to a bilateral dispute between Argentina and Uruguay over the construction of pulp mills on the banks of the Uruguay River, the natural border between the two countries.
“There can’t be a free-trade agreement if that happens again,” he said of the border closings that occurred during the 2005-2010 administration of Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez and the governments of the then-heads of state of Argentina – Nestor Kirchner and his successor, Cristina Fernandez.
For his part, the acting chair of Eurochamber Uruguay, Gustavo Weigel, said during the discussion that Uruguay “has the conditions for attracting those (European) investments.”
The South American country furthermore “can produce very high quality products for Europe,” he added.
“Uruguay can be Europe’s food reserve at critical moments,” Weigel said, adding that the country’s biggest opportunities are in the technology sector, high-quality products and agricultural inputs.
Kade, meanwhile, said recent global developments “favor greater commercial exchange between Mercosur and the EU,” adding that relations between the United States and the 28-member bloc are not at a high point.
The panel, titled “View of European Business Regarding Mercosur,” was moderated by Andrea Nicolaj, head of the EU delegation to Uruguay’s trade and economic section.