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An Extraordinary Summit of MERCOSUR Heads of State will be held in Brasília. The meeting will be preceded by an informal gathering of the bloc’s Foreign Ministers, on 30 July.

Convened at the 43rd Summit of MERCOSUR Heads of State, the meeting in Brasília will welcome the entry of Venezuela as a full member of the bloc. It will also present an opportunity for the Pro Tempore MERCOSUR Presidency, held by Brazil until December 2012, to put forward its priorities.

With the entry of Venezuela, MERCOSUR will boast a population of 270 million inhabitants (70% of South America’s population), a GDP at market prices of US$ 3.3 trillion (83.2% of South America’s GDP) and a territory of 12.7 million km² (72% of South America’s area). The admission of Venezuela alters the strategic position of the bloc, which now extends from the Caribbean to the continent’s deep south. MERCOSUR also asserts itself as a global energy power, both in renewable and non-renewable resources.

Established in 1991, MERCOSUR enabled a significant increase in trade flows among the founding members. In 1990, exchange among the members of the bloc was US$ 4.1 billion; in 2011, it reached US$ 104.9 billion. To overcome the asymmetries among the countries in the grouping is the goal of the MERCOSUR Convergence Fund (FOCEM), investing US$ 100 million annually in projects that enhance competitiveness and social cohesion in the bloc.

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