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Uruguayan president to host Paraguayan leader for visit


Uruguayan president to host Paraguayan leader for visit

Photo: Reuters/ Jorge Adorno

Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez will meet with his Uruguayan counterpart Luis Lacalle Pou in Uruguay today.

In the meeting, Lacalle Pou is likely to push Benitez to support amendments to Mercosur rules regarding bilateral deals. As it stands today, Mercosur countries—a bloc usually including Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela (the latter currently suspended)—must negotiate commercial deals as a bloc. Members’ interest in loosening these restrictions has strengthened, given that EU nations like France and Belgium are refusing to sign the massive EU-Mercosur trade deal due to environmental concerns in Brazil.

Benitez has not made public his views on the proposal, but it is believed that he sees more benefits in negotiating as a bloc. Lacalle Pou’s proposal is backed by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro; however, Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez remains sceptical of the idea, given that he is wary of weakening the bloc-wide external tariff in place. The topic is expected to be the centrepiece of negotiations for Mercosur’s 30th-anniversary meeting, to be held in Brazil on March 26. Expect ideological differences between Bolsonaro and Fernandez to hinder negotiations, making the rule change unlikely as the bloc operates on consensus.

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