By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The 47th Mercosur Summit (Common Market of the South) starts on Wednesday, December 17th, with leaders of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela discussing among other things the entry of Bolivia as the newest member of the group.
The governments of Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay and Argentina have already approved Bolivia’s entry into the bloc, and the Congresses of Venezuela, Uruguay and Argentina have already ratified the approval. But there has been a resistance by Paraguay according to Brazilian news outlet Agencia Brasil.
When the approval by the other member countries was given, Paraguay was under suspension by the bloc due to the coup against former President Fernando Lugo. Now that Paraguay’s suspension has been lifted the Latin American country wants to renegotiate the terms of membership.
Also during the summit, the bloc’s presidency, currently with Cristina Kirchner, will be handed over to Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff. The summit comes at a time when trade among Mercosur members has sharply declined due to economic difficulties faced by the countries in the region.
According to local media Mercosur members are expected to discuss the on-going trade agreements with Asian countries and the European Union. Another item on the agenda is the possible creation of a single Mercosur license plate to be adopted for new vehicles starting January of 2016.
According figures from the Brazilian government, the five countries which currently make up Mercosur have a combined population of approximately 284.5 million, over an area of more than 13,771,000 sq. km. With those numbers, Mercosur is the world’s fourth-largest trading bloc after the European Union (EU), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).