Mercosur ministerial summit “postponed”


Febrero de 2006


Mercosur Foreign Affairs ministers’ summit scheduled for next week in Buenos Aires has been suspended with no new date announce, given “agenda problems” of several participants, revealed Argentine diplomatic sources.

Two special guests were expected to participate in the meeting Spain’s Foreign Affairs minister Miguel Angel Moratinos who will be visiting several South American countries and a delegate from Venezuela that is in the process of becoming a full member of Mercosur.

Buenos Aires sources admitted that the presence or absence of Uruguayan Foreign Affairs minister Reinaldo Gargano, in the midst of the pulp mill controversy, would have been an irritating factor for the meeting and its success.

However in spite of the growing rift between Uruguay and Argentina over the pulp mills dispute that are been built in the shared river Uruguay, last week junior officials from Mercosur did meet in Buenos Aires and addressed the growing complaints from junior members Uruguay and Paraguay against their bigger brothers, Argentina and Brazil.

“Mercosur is the priority, and is very much alive and active”, said Argentina’s International Economic Relations Secretary Alfredo Chiaradía. Argentina currently holds the six months rotating Mercosur chair.

Present at the meeting was also Carlos Chacho Alvarez, president of the Mercosur Representatives Committee and just back from a regional visit to member countries to fathom the impact of the current Argentine-Uruguayan diplomatic dispute.

Mr. Chiaradía made it a point to underline that the pulp mills dispute was not in the agenda but rather Uruguay and Paraguay’s discomfort with the recently agreed Competition Adaptation Mechanism bilaterally agreed between Argentina and Brazil to avoid vulnerable industrial sectors from an overflow of the other member’s imports.

Apparently Uruguay and Paraguay are pressing for a similar mechanism to help their weaker economies counterbalance the asymmetries with the larger economies of Argentina and Brazil, thus helping to address much of the on going complaints. However is a similar or new competition adaptation mechanism is reached the bilateral instrument would automatically fall.
Argentina and Brazil are also concerned with the junior members flirting with United States on security, trade and investment issues.

 MercoPress 2006.