Paraguay and Uruguay Closer to US and Unhappy with Brazil and Argentina

    Paraguay and Uruguay, the smaller nations of the five-country trade bloc Mercosur, raised renewed interest Friday, July 21, in bilateral trade deals with non-member nations.

    Uruguayan Economy Minister, Danilo Astori, told reporters Thursday night that the nation remains interested in bilateral deals outside of Mercosur and Paraguay’s Foreign Minister, Leila Rachid, complained that slow progress on trade issues within the group was leading her nation to look elsewhere.

    Mercosur trade integration has made "few advances" Rachid said during a speech on Thursday, ahead of yesterday’s presidential summit. She said economic integration needs to improve rapidly "or we will continue to do bilateral accords that are the real seed of Mercosur destruction."

    Mercosur, formally known as the Common Market of the South, was founded in 1991 by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Venezuela was formally inducted yesterday.

    Paraguay and Uruguay frequently complain that their interests are neglected for those of larger nations Argentina and Brazil.

    In recent months, leaders from Uruguay and Paraguay have expressed interest in one-on-one free trade accords with the United States, raising the ire of other Mercosur officials.

    Presidents from the Mercosur nations were in the Argentine provincial city of Cordoba for a one-day summit yesterday. The Mercosur bloc has signed trade agreements with Cuba and Pakistan during the summit.

    Mercopress – www.mercopress.com

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