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Mercosur, or the Southern Common Market, is a customs union between Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. It was originally set up in 1991. Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru have associate member status. Bolivia may be incorporated as a full member soon. In June 2006, Venezuela signed on as a full Mercosur member, although its membership still has to be ratified by the parliament of Paraguay.

As an instrument of subregional integration, Mercosur has been used to carry out important harmonization processes between the member states in areas such as intellectual property, agricultural policy and labour law. But the group is also plagued by internal conflicts.

Mercosur as a bloc is currently negotiating bilateral free trade agreements with other blocs such as CARICOM, the Andean Community, European Union, and the Gulf Cooperation Council. It is also seeking one with the Dominican Republic.

Mercosur signed an FTA with Israel in December 2007 (which entered into force in September 2011) and another with Palestine in December 2011 after the four members recognised its statehood.

The possibility of Uruguay’s “breaking away” from Mercosur to sign its own FTA with the United States has created enormous tension within the group (not to mention within Uruguay). A similar situation exists with Paraguay.

last update: May 2012

Canada interested in closer links with Mercosur announces ‘exploratory talks’
Canada and Mercosur agreed on Friday to hold exploratory talks to strengthen their relationship, Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast said on Friday. Fast is currently in Asunción to promote bilateral trade and investments, and Paraguay currently holds the Mercosur chair.
Humala: Peru not ready for Mercosur
Peruvian President-elect Ollanta Humala has gone on record ruling out an early push for membership of the Mercosur trade bloc for his country’s emerging economy but leaving the door open for a political tie with the group.
Uruguay considers China a ‘strategic partner’ and supports a Beijing-Mercosur trade accord
Uruguay sees China as a ‘strategic partner’ and has kept good relations with Beijing since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1988, said Uruguayan Foreign Affairs minister Luis Almagro, a former ambassador to China from 2007-2009. Almagro made the statement as Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping begun his official visit to Uruguay.
US feels threatened by MERCOSUR consolidation and Venezuela’s “generosity” in the region
A US diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks and published yesterday reveals the U.S.’s fear over the consolidation of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and Venezuela’s entry to the organisation.
Brazil, Argentina seek to bring Cuba into Mercosur trade bloc
Member nations of Mercosur will seek to boost economic and political ties with Cuba in a bid to make the communist island an associate member of the South American trade bloc.
Political deal in Paraguay to vote for Venezuela’s incorporation to Mercosur
Venezuela’s incorporation to Mercosur as full member seems closer as the Paraguayan Senate readies to consider the issue following on political agreements worked out by President Fernando Lugo.
Uruguay calls for a Mercosur with “open regionalism” for smaller members
Uruguay called on Brazil and Argentina to allow Mercosur junior members to reach unilateral trade agreements with third countries helping to boost the group’s dynamism.
Mercosur bloc signs free-trade deal with Egypt
Mercosur, a South American trade bloc that groups big agricultural exporters Brazil and Argentina, signed a free-trade deal with Egypt on Monday, Argentina’s industry minister said.
Brazil to promote FTA between Mercosur, SICA
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Wednesday he will promote negotiations on a free trade agreement between the Central American Integration System (SICA) and Mercosur, where he will take the interim presidency.
Mercosur-Israel free trade agreement becomes effective
The free trade agreement between Mercosur and Israel, the first out of the region for the South American block, became effective this week for Paraguay. For the rest of Mercosur full members, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay the official date is April first.


    Mercado Común del Sur (MERCOSUR) is a common market between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.
  • MERCOSUR website
    Official website of MERCOSUR, a common market between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay (in Portuguese and Spanish)