Venezuela’s formal admission in Mercosur, the South American common market, conceded on June 29 by Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, in the absence of Paraguay – suspended on the same occasion by the block following President Fernando Lugo’s controversial ouster on June 22 – will be formalized today in Brasilia. Cristina Fernández, José Mujica and Hugo Chavez have confirmed their presence and, according to official sources, will hold a closed-door meeting with Dilma Rousseff before the official ceremony.
Approved in 2006 by Mercosur members and subsequently ratified by the Congress of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, Venezuela’s full membership had been restrained so far just by Paraguay. Lugo’s ouster has favored a controversial political agreement reached in Mendoza that has raised controversy in Uruguay, meeting firm opposition from Vice-President Danilo Astori.
The Mendoza agreeement has also caught the Uruguayan head of diplomacy, who shortly before the extraordinary meeting had assured that Paraguay would not have been suspended.
Brazilian, Uruguayan and Argentine business people expect Venezuela’s admission to increase turnover though they also worry over Venezuela’s timing in adapting to EU rules.
“We’re waiting to know whether they will proceed rapidly, whether they will take years or whether they will respect them in full,” said Rubens Barbosa from the Industrial Federation of the State of Sao Paulo. The questions also affect future negotiations for new trade agreements between Mercosur and other countries or blocs.
“Venezuela has a limited view of the world and can hinder new agreements” according to the president of the Association for Foreign Trade of Brazil, José Augusto Castro. The immediate reference is to the free trade that Mercosur has signed with Israel, a country with which the Chávez government broke off diplomatic relations in 2009.