By Peter Tase
On April 29 the National Coordinators Meeting of MERCOSUR was held in Montevideo, which outlined the terms and schedule of working group meetings established by Bolivia’s Protocol of Accession to MERCOSUR; documents signed by President Evo Morales during a summit in Brazil in late last year.
On this occasion, Bolivian Minister of Foreign Trade and Integration, Pablo Guzman Laugier and the Director General of Trade and Investment Agreements, Benjamin White, delivered their government’s additions to the protocol of accession, while giving a full authority to this instrument which is expected to be ratified by the parliaments of all Member States of MERCOSUR. Such an approval process will make Bolivia the new Full Member nation in this regional trade integration alliance.
The working group in charge of protocol is in charge to work on the three major tasks that ought to be completed in the next 180 days: a) Determine a schedule for the gradual adoption of the existing regulatory amendments of MERCOSUR; b) Establish a schedule for the adoption of the External Common Tariff (Arancel Externo Común – AEC), anticipating exceptions and rules of product origin in MERCOSUR; c) Define the conditions to be negotiated with third countries or groups of countries for the membership of the Pluri-national State of Bolivia to international structures and agreements set by the founding MERCOSUR countries who have signed the treaty of Asuncion.
Thus, in the April 29th meeting the Bolivian National Coordinators agreed to create four small working groups: a team in charge of commercial and country of origin issues, the common legislation of MERCOSUR, External Common Tariff (ECT) special framework and exceptions; a team to study the external relations beyond MERCOSUR; a team for normative incorporation regulations; the fourth team will be in charge of the institutional aspects of operation, structure and membership contributions to MERCOSUR structure.
These teams in Bolivian Foreign Ministry will have their first meeting on June 3-7, in Montevideo.
In their recent visit to Uruguay, Bolivian authorities met with MERCOSUR High Representative Ivan Ramalho, an opportunity for Bolivian officials to extend an official invitation to Mr. Ramalho to visit La Paz, and meet with various authorities of the Executive branch and Bolivia’s production and commercial sectors. Bolivian Delegation met with Mr. Carlos Alvarez, Secretary General of ALADI, Latin American Integration Association (Asociación Latino Americana de Integración), a meeting in which Mr. Alvarez reiterated again ALADI’s support to Bolivia towards her integration in MERCOSUR. President Evo Morales of Bolivia, will attend the MERCOSUR Presidential Summit in Montevideo, in June 28th, on this occasion Venezuela will assume the presidency pro-tempore of this regional trade integration block.
At the same time as MERCOSUR Summit, the Entrepreneurship Summit of MERCOSUR will take place in the headquarters of the Uruguayan Technological Lab, an event that will be supported by the Industrial Chamber of Uruguay and Bolivian business leaders who are invited to attend and learn more about the integration process in the common market regime of MERCOSUR.