The President of Paraguay, Mario Abdo BenítezThe Thursday opened first virtual summit of Presidents of Mercosur and States parties, due to the coronavirus pandemic. On this day, Paraguay handed over the bloc’s pro tempore presidency to Uruguay.
“For Paraguay, Mercosur is the cornerstone of its foreign policy, and the best response to the challenges is more and better integration, “stressed the president in his speech at the beginning of the summit.
Uruguayan Luis Lacalle Pou, head of state of the country that assumed the pro tempore presidency of Mercosur, said: “Protectionism may be a temptation for some countries, especially for the larger ones. Mercosur has a duty to finish what has started. We have to sign the trade agreement with the European Union. The pro tempore presidency will commit to the firmHe promised.
“Mercosur cannot stay on the side of the road in such a fast-paced world. I think it has advanced. In different stages and times with different speeds. There is no need to be ‘mercopesimists’ or ‘mercoptimists’. We must be cor mercorealists, ‘”he added.
Then, he stressed: “We must sincere the relations between our States. We must do this sincerely behind closed doors ”, and marked the need to“ work hard in the free trade zone ”, consolidating the national treatment of its products and perfecting the customs union.
The presidents of Argentina also participated in the meeting, Alberto Fernández; from Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro; from Bolivia, Jeanine Añez; From Chile, Sebastián Piñera; and from Colombia, Iván Duque.
“Mercosur imposes on us that there is a common destiny like Patria Grande, which was the will of our heroes “, he stressed Alberto Fernández. “The challenge we have is to end inequality in our towns,” he said.
“Any differences that may arise, ideological or conceptual, take second place. when it comes to understanding that they are the peoples that are linked beyond the governments ”, he emphasized; and asked to establish unity in Latin America to face the challenges that will come in the post-pandemic of COVID-19.
For his part, Jair Bolsonaro remarked: “Mercosur is our main vehicle for insertion in the world. It is part of the solutions we are building for the future ”.
The Brazilian head of state made no mention of the specific words of Fernández, who preceded him in the videoconference. He stressed that during the pandemic Mercosur did not stop working and appealed to all presidents to advance negotiations for free trade agreements with different countries, such as Canada, Lebanon, Singapore and South Korea. The advanced negotiations with these last two countries are those that Argentina had objected to when dealing with eventual inequalities in economic and commercial terms.
Bolsonaro also claimed a “necessary internal restructuring“Of Mercosur that reaches the internal tariff regime, the automotive and sugar regime.
Paraguay’s positive assessment of its Pro Tempore Presidency
Amidst the challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and despite the restrictions it imposed, Paraguay highlighted that Mercosur held more than 150 virtual meetings this semester and achieved approval of more than 50 standards derivatives that will collaborate in strengthening regional integration.
The Embassador Didier Olmedo, vice-chancellor and national coordinator of Paraguay in the Common Market Group (GMC), made a report in the framework of the LVI Ordinary Meeting of the Common Market Council (CMC), which was held by videoconference and was chaired by Foreign Minister Antonio Rivas Palacios.
“At the beginning of the pro tempore presidency we have set a series of priorities with the aim of continuing with the work that Mercosur has been developing throughout these years, and we also try to impress quickly on new issues on the bloc’s agenda”, he claimed.
“The greatest challenge we encountered, without a doubt, was and continues to be the COVID-19 pandemic. And, in this context, many of the planned activities had to be rescheduled, reconsidered and even regulated in the case of decision-making bodies, in order to be able to organize the meetings scheduled during the semester, “he stressed.
Among the achievements, the Paraguayan authorities highlighted:
– Coordination of monitoring measures, active surveillance and facilitation of the return of citizens and residents of the block to their places of origin or residence.
– Approval of CMC Decision No. 01/2020 by which, through FOCEM, additional funds (USD 16 million) are extended to the Research, Education and Biotechnology applied to Health project, in order to contribute to national authorities Of the four countries in the fight, COVID-19 was established to improve national capacities to carry out virus detection tests.
– Important advances in the agreements with the European Union and with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) regarding the legal revision as well as the conclusion of the final technical details for its prompt subscription.
– Significant progress in the ongoing negotiations with Canada, Korea, Singapore and Lebanon.
– At the regional level, talks with the Pacific Alliance for the implementation of the Puerto Vallarta Action Plan intensified.
– Advances in the discussion of elements for the adaptation of the automotive sector to the customs union of Mercosur.
– Holding of the Meeting of the Ad Hoc Sugar Sector Group, after 19 years of inactivity, carrying out a fruitful exchange of information between the States parties in order to have a preliminary diagnosis, with a view to promoting technical cooperation and strengthening the competitiveness of the sector.
– Progress in the negotiations of the Mercosur Electronic Commerce Protocol, which aims to develop electronic commerce in a predictable, transparent and inclusive manner, which enables good regulatory coverage in the States parties.
– Extension of the mandate to the Ad Hoc Group to examine the consistency and dispersion of the Common External Tariff until the end of the Uruguayan pro tempore presidency.
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