Dear friend, Minister Eladio Loizaga, foremost I would like to express my sincere acknowledgment for the warm reception granted by Paraguay in this 49th Meeting of the Common Market Council.
I also take this opportunity to welcome our colleague Susana Malcorra, who has recently taken the noble responsibility to manage Palacio San Martín. I am certain that her experience at the United Nations and the private sector will be of great value to promote our integration project.
To be in Asunción, the city where MERCOSUR was born, encourages us to consider what we have accomplished in these 25 years, as well as our future challenges.
Our integration resulted from the perception that, working together, we would be able to quickly advance towards the purpose of promoting economic development with social justice.
Throughout this period, we made remarkable progress in expanding national markets, with the active coordination of our policies in different sectors.
Our commerce grew exponentially, jumping from US$ 4.5 billion in 1991 to approximately US$ 62 billion, a historical record in 2011. We went beyond and also reached important advancements in the fields of social and civic integration, democratic consolidation and the fight against poverty. MERCOSUR counts, consequently, with an important range of achievements that we should engage to maintain.
Every integration process is a great challenge. It is a permanent effort to adapt to the needs of each partner as well as to the external circumstances.
We are committed to continue intensifying the trade agenda of our bloc. Last July, in Brasilia, we decided to adopt the Action Plan for the Commercial and Economic Strengthening of MERCOSUR, which aims at the identification and overcoming of possible trade barriers between our countries.
The flow of our internal trade has a considerable influence in the perception that others have of the bloc, particularly for maintaining the trust of economic agents in the integration process.
By renewing our commitment to overcome obstacles, we are taking an important step to allow MERCOSUR to continue playing an important role in the development of our countries.
We cannot lose sight of the fact that the intra-zone trade is composed primarily of manufactured goods. Approximately 80% of Brazilian imports originating from MERCOSUR are precisely of manufactured goods.
This results in quality employment and revenue for our region. It also reveals extensive possibilities for productive integration in key sectors of high value, such as the automotive.
As a higher body within the bloc, we need to convey to all other technical levels, especially the Working Subgroups and the Committees, that we trust their efforts to support our integration by overcoming possible barriers to mutual trade and investments.
We have the responsibility to eliminate the remaining tariff barriers and search for regulatory convergence in order to extinguish non-tariff barriers and equivalent measures that could estrange us from the purposes of the Treaty of Asunción.
MERCOSUR constitutes a valuable instrument for the projection of the interests of its Member States in an international economy increasingly competitive, with special relevance to the negotiations with countries and blocs from different regions.
For this reason, we should work with a renewed spirit to expand the network of trade agreements between our bloc and other countries and regions.
The progress of the MERCOSUR-European Union negotiations is still the top priority in Brazil’s foreign relations agenda. As we know, MERCOSUR is ready to go along the exchange of market access offers as quickly as possible, initiating the final stages of negotiations.
MERCOSUR’s offer, which includes sectors such as assets, government purchases, services and investment, was approved in July of 2014 and it is in full compliance, in all areas, with the parameters agreed in 2010, when negotiations were resumed. We are hopeful that the European Union reaches the necessary internal consensus to allow us the accomplishment of a prompt exchange process.
Despite the relevance of the negotiations with the European Union, our external interests should diverse its action. In order to improve our international insertion, increase our exports and bring new investments, we need to work on different negotiating fronts.
We must take decisive steps in our conversations with future partners, such as Canada, the EFTA – European Free Trade Association, India, Lebanon and Tunisia, among others, and as the SACU – Southern Africa Customs Union.
With all your support, we are confident that we can magnify the ambitions of MERCOSUR’s foreign agenda, during the Pro Tempore Presidency of Uruguay.
This moment demands a strong economic integration within the scope of our region, with measures that complement the existing liberalization acts.
We need to recover the space lost with the impairment of the preferences negotiated in the Economic Complementation Agreements, as a result of agreements signed later between our regional partners and third-party countries.
This goal requires the fulfillment of the regular meeting schedule of the Administrative Commissions of these Economic Complementation Agreements.
Only with this effort we can work harder and better towards the expansion of current tariff preferences, as well as advance in the negotiations on services, investments, government purchases and trade facilitation, among other topics.
In this sense, I would like to congratulate the Pro Tempore Presidency of Paraguay for promoting the25th Extraordinary Meeting of the Administrative Commission of the MERCOSUL-Chile Economic Complementation Agreement , the ACE-35, where the update of its original regimen was approved.
I would like to underline, as well, the efforts that allowed the conclusion of the MERCOSUR-Colombia Agreement on Services, after six years of negotiations. This is an important step towards the goal of expanding the scope of our economic-trade relations, which will favor the circulation of goods and people, in addition to the internationalization of our businesses.
I cannot forget to acknowledge the Government of Venezuela for the manifested intent to organize the meeting of the Administrative Commission of the ACE-59 early next year. We believe this is a critical step towards stronger agreements.
Still, we should continue to work to promote deeper understandings between MERCOSUR and Peru. The Administrative Commission of the ACE-58 is an extremely important forum to stimulate the economic-trade relations between our countries and this important Andean partner, by means of the expansion of the agreement’s coverage and the precipitation of tariff reduction schedules.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
With the purpose of reinforcing our region’s integration process, it is equally important to continue the efforts to approach MERCOSUR and the Pacific Alliance.
We need to deconstruct the mistaken discourse of rivalry between the two blocs. We are connected, as we know, by a wide network of trade agreements, some of which will soon reach two decades.
I acknowledge the persistence of the Paraguayan Pro Tempore Presidency to summon a meeting between the two blocs for this semester.
It is important that we are able to accomplish an appointment between these two groups during the Pro Tempore Uruguayan Presidency, in order to debate the Action Plan forwarded by MERCOSUR to initiate the dialogue with the Pacific Alliance, as well as other potential topics of interest.
This effort shall integrate the approach initiative that MERCOSUR is developing with the countries in the Alliance through our Economic Complementation Agreements.
Still within the bounds of the region, Brazil supports the progress in the negotiations with Cuba and with the Central-American Integration System, the SICA.
Our predecessors perceived the expansion of MERCOSUR, allowing the adhesion of the other members of ALADI to the Treaty of Asunción. We know the meaning of the effort to carry out a complex process of assimilation and learning of the rules and disciplines of MERCOSUR.
We are confident of the interest of Venezuela, our fifth partner, and Bolivia, in the accession process. You can count on Brazil’s cooperation for whatever necessary.
Dear fellow ministers,
In nearly 25 years of history, MERCOSUR has grown to embrace a large spectrum of subjects which are not limited to the economic and commercial issues, but also comprise an important citizen and social agenda.
We are almost 300 million citizens and we make use of rights and benefits which were granted to us by the extraordinary institutional and normative evolution that took place in the region since the signature of the Treaty of Asunción.
The strength of this agenda, characterized in the last years by the approval of the Action Plan for the Conformation of a Citizenship Statute of tMERCOSUR, and of the Social Action Strategic Plan, ensures an even higher legitimacy to our integration process.
The Brazilian Government considers as priorities the citizen and social dimensions of MERCOSUR and has enhanced, during its last Pro Tempore Presidency, the effort to review and update the Social Action Strategic Plan and the Citizenship Statute.
Such effort of revision must be continuous, in order to allow the achievement of the goals described in both documents.
The Brazilian Government is equally committed to expanding the social participation in the decisions over the future of the bloc.
We regard as extremely valuable the execution of Social Summits, which have been taking place since 2006, and whose institutional character was reinforced in 2012.
The Social Summits became part of the MERCOSUR scenario and contribute to bring to the heart of the bloc the demands of social movements within our countries.
I congratulate the Paraguayan Pro Tempore Presidency for the work developed during this semester and for the organization of the 19th MERCOSUR Social Summit. I offer my support to the next Pro Tempore Presidency towards the effort to prosper in the execution of these agendas.
MERCOSUR is part of our identities and it is increasingly present in the lives of our citizens.
We have moved forward in several aspects, from the sustainable expansion of trade to the social and civil agendas, from the regulatory harmonization to the political coordination. We have created innovative mechanisms to deal with our specific needs.
It is our responsibility to forecast the next 25 years of the bloc, protecting this heritage, and ensuring the continuous progress of a stronger MERCOSUR.
I would like to acknowledge, once again, my dear friend Minister Eladio Loizaga for his leadership at MERCOSUR and for the work performed along this semester.
I also take this opportunity to wish all the success to my friend Minsiter Rodolfo Nin Novoa in the direction of the works to be conducted this next semester.
Thank you very much.