Mercosur Strengthens Customs Union, Seeks Global Role

By Dialogo
August 04, 2010

South American presidents agreed Tuesday on mechanisms to promote trade and finance millions of dollars in infrastructure investments, seeking a more significant role for the region on the global stage.
At a summit in the Andean province of San Juan, in Argentina, the presidents of the Mercosur countries approved a Common Customs Code and the elimination of double collection of the Common External Tariff (AEC) starting on 1 January 2012, in addition to a free-trade treaty with Egypt.
“All this is going to allow this region, South America, to play more than a significant part in the concert of international politics in the twenty-first century, where new actors, new protagonists can already be glimpsed,” said the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández.
The meeting was attended by the heads of state of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay, full members of the Mercosur customs union, and those of its associate members, Chile and Bolivia.
Argentina holds Mercosur’s half-yearly presidency and will turn over coordination of the block to Brazil, in the last six months of Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s administration.

At the meeting, nine infrastructure projects were approved, for a cost of 795 million dollars, 650 million of which will be financed by Mercosur’s so-called convergence funds. The resources will be destined entirely for firms and suppliers from the block.
The projects include paving roads and building an electrical transmission line in Paraguay, connecting the electrical grids of Brazil and Uruguay, and building a sewer system in a city on the Brazilian-Paraguayan border.
Lula said that during the six months in which he will act as Mercosur president, he will make an effort to conclude long-pending negotiations with the European Union for a trade treaty between the two blocks.