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Uruguay: After Doha, FTA with the EU and NAFTA fails once again

Radio Mundo Real 11/08/2008

Uruguay: After Doha, FTA with the EU and NAFTA Fails Once Again

Uruguay: Tras Doha, vuelve a sonar el posible TLC con la UE y el NAFTA

Trade agreements with big blocs like the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or with the European Union have experienced a recent boost in Uruguay.

On the one hand, the results of the latest negotiation of the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round, is seens by the Uruguayan authorities as a chance to resume a bilateral agreement with the EU. While, on the other hand, the free trade agreement signed with Mexico could be the entrance to NAFTA, so Uruguay would harm the already deteriorated unity of MERCOSUR and what is even worse, it would line up with Peru and Colombia, strong advocates of bilateral and unlimited FTA both with the US and the EU.

The Uruguayan media says that the Uruguayan government would propose MERCOSUR member countries to resume negotiations with the EU and the US “as part of a strategy to face the failure of the Doha Round”.

The Head of Economic Affairs and of MERCOSUR from the Uruguayan chancellery, Elbio Roselli said they would consider negotiating bloc to bloc although preserving the countries autonomy.

Those are the terms of association between the EU and the Andean Community of Nations (Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador), leading to a divide in the bloc between Peru and Colombia (which support a FTA) and Bolivia and Ecuador, which resist it by arguing it will lead to the loss of sovereignty.

The Uruguayan diplomat said the “collapse of the Doha negotiations gives MERCOSUR a chance of reassessing the agreement that has been negotiated with the European Union for a decade”.

The call off of the negotiations with CAN, the disagreement emerged during the Summit of Heads of State and Government of Latin America and the Caribbean and the EU in Lima in May, as well as the massive repudiation sparked by the so called “Return Directive” which is in force in Europe to make immigration more difficult, may have a contiuum in these MERCOSUR negotiations.

Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez announced a new round of official visits in the last months of the year. In Japan, Israel, South Korea, Vazquez will insist on bilateral agreements above the country’slink with MERCOSUR and with the recently created Union of South American Nations (USAN), taking Chile’s actions as reference.

The ambassadors to Mexico, the US and Canada in Montevideo are working on a plan through which Uruguay could broaden the US free trade area through a FTA, together with Mexico.

The possibility of a bilateral FTA between Uruguay and the US was ruled out when MERCOSUR considered it inconceivable. However, the last word has not been said.

Tabare Vazquez visited his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon where they discussed the mechanism that is currently being negotiated. Mexico would be the platform to export to the US and Canada. The plan is that Uruguayan companies can have “NAFTA origin” in order to enter its products freely to North America.

The Free Trade Agreement between Uruguay and Mexico was signed in July of 2004 during Batlle’s administration. Overall, Mexico has signed 12 FTA with 44 countries in America, Europe and Asia; 6 Economic Complementary Agreements and 24 Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements.

Integration and Development

Uruguayan Senator Alberto Couriel believes that the development of Latin American countries is inconveivable without a real integration under patterns that should overcome mercantilism to stress the complementarity.

He also said that so far transnational corporations, instead of states, have led pseudo integration processes: “The states have to agree to negotiate under different terms with transnational corproations, which are deciding which type of integration should be implemented.

 source: Radio Mundo Real