In secrecy until there are signs of reaching a minimum agreement, the Government resumed in the last days its approach to Brazil that leads Bolsonaro jar to unblock pending issues of deep repercussion for the march of the main Argentine integration platform in the international economy, such as the Mercosur.
Last Friday, the chancellor Santiago Cafiero visited the Brazilian capital to meet there with his counterpart, Carlos Frana, and put on paper an agreement that will involve a 10% reduction in the Common External Tariff (AEC), the backbone of the customs union launched three decades ago.
In this way, and after more than a year and a half of negotiations, in which there was no lack of ridiculousness, Argentina granted a slight tax reduction, which maintains the protection on sectors of the light industry that the Government considers vulnerable to a possible “avalanche of imports”. Footwear, textiles, leather goods and appliances will continue to be protected with high tariffs. This agreement implies a defeat for the liberal wing of the Brazilian government, faced by the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, which requires a 50% reduction on the entire tariff line.
That sealed at the end of last week in Brasilia also expresses the concern of the Unin Industrial Argentina (UIA) and the other trade union entities of Mercosurian manufacturing. Cafiero and his bishop in economic affairs, Cecilia Todesca, had received the head of the UIA at the Chancellery, Daniel Funes from Rioja, to coordinate the mission that hours later would face the neighbor passed with the Minister of Productive Development, Matas Kulfas, and the Argentine ambassador in Brazil, Daniel Scioli.
Argentina and Brazil advanced in Mercosur agreements to avoid the bloc’s fracture
The Government also welcomed the conclusion of the meeting with a bilateral statement that establishes the commitment to “work on the complementarity between the internal and external agenda of the bloc in order to deepen integration as a collective opportunity to face global challenges”, at a time when another member state, Uruguay Luis Lacalle Pou, intends to take another path.
The unresolved issue in the visit to Brazil is the implicit support that Bolsonaro is giving to the Uruguayan attempt to advance a bilateral free trade agreement with China., announced weeks ago. Montevideo wants the Brazilian government to make a public statement that will put Mercosur in check as it was conceived to date.
Faced with this scenario, the understanding reached a few days ago aims to show predisposition to the Brazilian agenda, but in exchange for not validating the strategy followed by Uruguay. ANDThis means, for Argentina, stop obstructing the agenda of external negotiations that the other partners promote with third countries or blocs, and among which there are agreements with Canada and Lebanon, among others.
In this regard, Cafiero also met last week with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, Francisco Bustillo, and agreed to hold monthly working meetings to address the bilateral agenda and the thorny issue of Mercosur, which has provoked mutual reproaches among the presidents.
The agreement reached between Cafiero and his Brazilian counterpart has yet to go through the agreement between Paraguay and Uruguay to be finally applied. That is discounted, although this will put the Banda Oriental in a position to demand from Brazil its support for the dialogue with China, since this was part of the agreement that both countries had to mobilize the Mercosur agenda towards a place that Argentina de in no way is it intended to promote.
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