By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Despite statements made by future Economy Minister, Paulo Guedes that Mercosur would not be a priority to Brazil in the Bolsonaro Administration, representatives of the countries that integrate the trade bloc said Wednesday that they expect changes but no damage or disintegration of the economic alliance.
“Substantial changes in the functioning of Mercosur are necessary in relation to tariff barriers, convergence of customs rules, understanding of rules of origin,” said FecomercioSP vice-president, Rubens Medrano, during the seminar “Intra-Mercosur Trade” in São Paulo, where bloc representatives discussed.
Medrano emphasized that ‘no one is satisfied with Mercosur nowadays’ and called on the private sector to participate in the discussions about regional integration, not leaving them to the governments.
“Alone, a country can have some advantages, but many disadvantages. Together, I think we can achieve goals that bring opportunities for all. Today no country can close its borders, since it has been proven that those who have practiced multilateralism have grown and reached high levels of productivity. We must not give up Mercosur,” concluded Medrano.
During an interview last week, Guedes criticized the economic bloc stating that it is ‘very restrictive, and Brazil has been a prisoner of ideological alliances and this is bad for the economy’.
Political analysts, however, say that it is improbable that the incoming administration will totally abandon the bloc due to strategic on-going trade negotiations with other economic blocs.
Brazil is very interested in signing an agreement with the EU and to create this alliance, say analysts, it will need Mercosur since the European bloc is not likely to enter into a bilateral trade agreement with a single country.
The economic bloc, originally consisting of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, was created in 1991. Brazil is responsible for eighty percent of Mercosur’s GDP, and exported to the other members of the bloc from January to September a total of US$16.7 million in products and services.