Brazil’s Lula pressures South American trade bloc to strike China trade deal
Radical-left Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Wednesday called on the South American trading bloc Mercosur, which Brazil helped establish, to “urgently” seal a long-awaited trade deal with the European Union so that it can happen to the same with communist China.
“We will intensify our discussions with the European Union and sign this agreement so that we can immediately discuss an agreement between China and Mercosur,” said Lula da Silva. said. “I think that it is possible.”
The Brazilian president made his statements during a joint press conference with centrist Uruguayan president Luis Lacalle Pou as part of his official visit to Uruguay. Uruguay was independently to negotiate a possible free trade agreement with China since 2021, reaching a feasibility agreement with the Asian communist nation in July 2022.
Lula da Silva met Lacalle Pou with the intention of dissuading his government from concluding an agreement with China on a joint Mercosur agreement with China on its own.
“We want to sit down as Mercosur and discuss with our Chinese friends the Mercosur-China deal,” Lula said. added.
Mercosur is a South American economic and political bloc founded in 1991 by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with other countries in the region acting as associated States. Venezuela officially joined Mercosur in 2012 but was suspended in 2016 in response to gross human rights abuses by the socialist regime and breaches of the bloc’s trade rules under dictator Nicolás Maduro.
Mercosur and the European Union have completed talks for a trade agreement agreement in 2019. The talks did not result in any established agreement because EU leaders expressed “environmental concerns” about the provisions being discussed. The parliaments of each of the 27 countries of the European Union must approve the agreement for it to enter into force.
In addition to negotiations for a possible free trade agreement with China, Uruguay has been to attempt join the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The other members of Mercosur have not reacted positively to the plans, calling them violations of the bloc’s founding statutes.
“Lacalle’s assertions are more than correct,” said Lula. “It is right to want to produce more and sell more. A growing openness to other peoples is important. We fully agree with Mercosur’s idea of innovation.
During the joint press conference, Lacalle Pou clarified that his country will remain a member of Mercosur but underlined that, in his vision, changes must be made to make Mercosur “modern, flexible and open to the world”.
“In conclusion, Uruguay has its dialogues with China, Brazil will surely deepen and initiate other ways, and we will come together and say: Uruguay has come this far, we will all negotiate together, or Brazil will say, this is what we can offer Mercosur, and Uruguay agrees,” he added.
Lula’s plea on behalf of Beijing follows that of Chinese dictator Xi Jinping address this week to member states of the left-wing Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). In the video address to people gathered in Argentina, the Chinese dictator urged CELAC member states to adopt China’s predatory Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a project in which China offers loans predators in poor countries.
“More and more countries in the region have engaged in high-quality cooperation with China, supported and participated in the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, and are working with China on the building a China-LAC community with future sharing,” Xi said.
Three of Mercosur’s four founding members have maintained close ties with China. The only exception is Paraguay, which maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan. In the case of Argentina, the South American nation joined China’s Belt and Road initiative in February 2022. China recently granted a $5 billion currency swap extension to Argentina in November to help ease its severe shortage of foreign exchange reserves.
At a joint press conference on Monday with Argentine Economy Minister Sergio Massa and his Brazilian counterpart, Fernando Haddad, at CELAC, Massa referred to Uruguay – the smallest country in Mercosur – as one of the “younger brothers” of the bloc and, as such, assured that “Brazil and Argentina have the responsibility to take care of it, like all little brother”.
President Lacalle responded to the statements of the Argentine minister shortly afterwards by simply declaring that they “look like Disneyland”.
The president of Brazil and the leftist president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, recently expressed their intention to open the procedure for the creation of a new regional common currency, provisionally called “On(South) to reduce the region’s dependence on the US dollar.
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.