BRASILIA – The presidents of Argentina and Brazil, Mauricio Macri and Michel Temer, respectively, invoked on Tuesday the “Trump effect” to propose a closer relationship between Mercosur and Mexico, the latter a country the two leaders agreed “is beginning to look south with more determination.”
Macri on Tuesday made a state visit to Brazil and, as Temer did, took advantage of a joint statement to speak about the need for greater opening by Mercosur, which the two leaders said should include Mexico, now having serious problems with the United States, its main trading partner.
Without directly citing US President Donald Trump, both Macri and Temer mentioned the “doubts” that have arisen in international trade and proposed a “strategy” to broaden the horizons of the bloc comprised of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, and from which Venezuela has been suspended.
“Let 2017 be a year of positive inflection for this strategic alliance” between Brazil and Argentina, said Macri, who invited Temer to “be allies and deal with this agenda together,” which includes “the internal strengthening of Mercosur and its relations with the world.”
In particular, besides the agreement that is already under negotiation with the European Union, the two leaders proposed that Mercosur, the six-month rotating presidency of which is currently held by Argentina, move closer in a determined fashion to the Pacific Alliance made up of Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico.
“We’re discussing the need for Mercosur to promote greater integration with the other countries of South America and with Mexico and to establish a closer relationship between Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance,” Temer said.
“Given a world with so many great uncertainties ... (and) when a trend toward disunion and protectionism is gaining strength,” there must be “more cooperation and integration,” the Brazilian president said.
Regarding Mexico, Macri went a bit farther, saying that “in this new situation” that country “is beginning to look south with more determination,” which could favor its moving closer to the countries of Latin America and, specifically, South America.
He also said that on Monday he spoke with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, to whom he expressed the desire for “a reasonable agreement between Mexico and the United States in this new phase” to be reached, but who he also invited to move closer to Mercosur.
Regarding that bloc, both leaders agreed that it must move forward with the elimination of customs barriers that persist among the partners and, in particular, between Argentina and Brazil.
So far on Macri’s visit, several agreements have been signed on diplomatic, consular and border matters, along with a cooperation pact between the two countries’ export promotion agencies.