Tuesday, November 12, 2019
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LATIN AMERICA | 03-09-2019 16:16

Brazil foreign minister views Alberto Fernández as a threat to Mercosur

“It would be very frustrating, just as Mercosur enjoys its best moment in 30 years, to have an Argentine government that might bring setbacks,” says Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo.

Brazil is worried that “setbacks” to the Mercosur trade bloc could harm its economic recovery, should Argentina’s opposition candidate Alberto Fernández win the presidency in October, Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo told Bloomberg today.

In an interview in Brasilia, the minister said the front-runner and his running mate, former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, are the same people who for years imposed barriers and held back the trade bloc comprised of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

“It would be very frustrating, just as Mercosur enjoys its best moment in 30 years, to have an Argentine government that might bring setbacks,” he said. “That worries us a lot because Mercosur is the centrepiece of our trade and economic policies.”

A spokesman for Fernández declined to comment on Araujo’s statements.

Mercosur’s prospects enjoyed a major boost following a breakthrough in free-trade talks with the European Union late in June, after 20 years of talks. Less than three months later, however, the continued existence of the South American customs union itself was called into question when Fernández emerged as the clear favourite to win the elections and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said his country could leave the bloc if Argentina resorted to protectionist policies after the vote.

Yet Araujo struck a cautious tone when asked about Brazil’s possible exit from Mercosur.

“Perhaps we might need to think about an exit,” he said, adding that his government would have to weigh wider political viewpoints to decide what to do. “Mercosur is a reality that’s part of the plan for our country, part of our economic recovery.”

– TIMES/BLOOMBERG

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