President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said this Wednesday (25) that “it is possible” to discuss the adoption of a free trade agreement between China and Mercosur, an economic bloc that includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, in addition to associated countries. Lula traveled to Montevideo, Uruguay, where he met with the country’s president, Luis Lacalle Pou. The purpose of the visit was to discuss the strengthening of Mercosur, given the advanced negotiations between Uruguay and China for the establishment of an independent trade agreement between the two countries.
For the Brazilian president, it is first necessary to unlock the ratification of the agreement between Mercosur and the European Union (EU). Approved in 2019, after 20 years of negotiations, this trade agreement needs to be ratified by the parliaments of all countries in both blocs to enter into force. However, several European countries have suspended approval of the agreement, which will require further negotiations.
“We are going to intensify discussions with the European Union and we are going to sign this agreement so that we can only discuss a possible agreement between China and Mercosur and I think it is possible”, he said in a statement to the press alongside Lacalle Pou.
“Although Brazil has China as its biggest trading partner and Brazil has a large surplus with China, we want to sit down, as Mercosur, and discuss this agreement with our Chinese friends”, he added.
Lula also stated that he agrees with Lacalle Pou’s vision of Mercosur’s “innovation and renewal”. According to him, the ideas will be treated, firstly, at the technical level, then ministerial and, then, between the presidents of the countries that make up the bloc.
“President Lacalle Pou’s claims are more than just. First, because the role of a president is to defend the interests of his country, its economy and its people. Second, because it’s fair to want to produce more and want to sell more, and that’s why it’s important to be as open as possible to the business world,” said Lula, defending that all countries in the region should grow together.
“I returned to be president not only to solve the problems of the Brazilian people, I returned because I believe in multilateralism and I want to strengthen Mercosur, Unasur, Celac and I want to fight for a new world governance, completed the president.
For Lacalle Pou, Mercosur needs to be modern, flexible and open to the world. According to him, Uruguay is negotiating with China, but there is no impediment to sharing information with other countries in the South American bloc. “We are going to create a technical team between Uruguay and Brazil and other interested countries to assess what we want and need in our relationship with China,” he said.
Second bridge between Jaguarão and Rio Branco and waterways in RS were also themes of the meeting
Infrastructure projects for the integration of Brazil and Uruguay were also the theme of the meeting. One of President Lacalle Pou’s pleas is Brazil’s support for the internationalization of the airport in the city of Rivera, which borders Santana do Livramento, in Rio Grande do Sul. Lula stated that he will promptly discuss the issue with the Minister of Ports and Airports, Márcio França.
Uruguay also defends the expansion of the bridge that connects the cities of Jaguarão, on the Brazilian side, and Rio Branco, on the Uruguayan side. The construction of a second bridge was also under discussion with the government of President Jair Bolsonaro.
According to Lula, discussions about this work began in his first term. “I thought this bridge was already ready and today I found out that it hasn’t even started. I want to make this commitment again that we are going to build this bridge. It interests Brazil, Uruguay, the people of both countries,” he said.
Finally, Lacalle Pou spoke about the creation of a waterway in Lagoa Mirim and Lagoa dos Patos. For this, it is necessary to dredge the channel on the Brazilian side. “The amount [de recursos] it won’t be very high, but it will be important for both nations”, said the Uruguayan.
This afternoon, Lula will also participate in a ceremony at the Montevideo city hall, where he will receive the Más Verde medal, in recognition of his efforts in defense of the environment. After the award ceremony, he will pay a personal visit to former Uruguayan president Pepe Mujica, at his farm, on the outskirts of the Uruguayan capital.
The prediction is that Lula’s entourage will leave Montevideo shortly after this appointment, bound for Brasília.
Before Uruguay, Lula was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he met with the country’s president, Alberto Fernándes, to resume relations between the two countries, and participated in the summit of leaders of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States ( Celac), in addition to other commitments and bilateral meetings with leaders.