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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

Uruguay criticizes Mercosur tolerance of export taxes
Uruguay’s Economy minister Danilo Astori criticized export taxes and complained the fact Mercosur has allowed Argentina to apply them when “we all know this is a simple manipulation of the economy” which also has political effects.
The politicization of Mercosur: With a divided past, is there hope for a united future?
Today the leaders of Mercosur are convening in Tucumán, Argentina, for their semi-annual conference. San Miguel de Tucumán was the site of Argentine independence from Spain in 1816. Mercosur should take advantage of the historic significance of this site and use this meeting to redefine itself independently from other regional integration schemes and trade blocs.
Trade Accord Boosts Latin America Ties
While acrimony persists over trade talks with the European Union (EU), the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) has had a breakthrough with bilateral negotiations with the Latin American trade bloc Mercosur.
MERCOSUR presidents meet today
Backed by values of sovereignty and integration, presidents of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) member countries meet Tuesday in this city, 186 miles northeast of Buenos Aires.
Mercosur signs trade deals with SACU, Turkey, Jordan
Leaders of the South American trade bloc Mercosur meeting at a summit in Argentina have signed trade agreements with the Southern African Customs Union, as well as with Turkey and Jordan.
Rifts threaten to overshadow South American union
Twelve South American countries founded a union on Friday aimed at boosting economic integration and political cohesion, but the region’s bitter rivalries stymied ambitious plans on defense and trade.
Paraguay backs Venezuela’s bid for full membership of Mercosur
Paraguay supports Venezuela’s bid for full membership of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur), visiting Paraguayan Foreign Minister Ruben Ramirez said here Tuesday.
Venezuela will help Mercosur become continental block
Mercosur with Venezuela included has “the potential of becoming a trade block of the whole of South America” said Brazilian Foreign Affairs minister Ceslo Amorim who also insisted that keeping out of the Washington inspired Free Trade Area of the Americas, FTAA, “has been positive”.
Venezuela OK’d for MERCOSUR
The Commission of the Constitution and Justice (CCJ) of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies approved the entrance of Venezuela to the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR).
Brazilian signal for Venezuela’s Mercosur membership
The Brazilian Lower House Constitution and Justice Committee passed on Wednesday a motion for the long awaited incorporation of Venezuela to the South American trade block, Mercosur. However Venezuelan membership still faces a full debate in the House and must convince the Brazilian Senate.


    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)