Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said on Wednesday that he supported an agreement between Mercosur and China and that the South American trade bloc should conclude negotiations with the European Union.
On a visit to Uruguay to dissuade his government from reaching an agreement with China on its own, which would undermine the Mercosur customs union, Lula said he agreed on the need to modernize and “open” the bloc to other regions.
“I have told President Lacalle, and I have told my ministers, that we are going to intensify the discussions and sign this agreement with the European Union so that we can then discuss a possible agreement between China and Mercosur, and I think it is possible,” Lula said together with the Uruguayan president, Luis Lacalle Pou, in Montevideo.
“Lacalle’s claims are more than fair. It is fair to want to produce more and sell more. An increasing openness to other peoples is important. We fully agree with Mercosur’s idea of innovation”, said Lula.
Lula also pointed out that it is “urgent” to sign the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Mercosur and the European Union. And he stressed that an FTA with China be discussed.
“We want to discuss a Mercosur-China agreement,” added the Brazilian president.
For his part, Lacalle Pou announced the creation of a technical team between Uruguay, Brazil and other Mercosur countries to see what is really wanted and needed in the relationship with China.
“No one escapes that the economic weight and the demographic weight of Brazil is very important, and surely if there is a decision by President Lula and the Government to move forward with China, we can calmly fold if it is really consistent with the needs of our country,” Lacalle said.
“In conclusion: Uruguay has its dialogues with China; Brazil will surely deepen and initiate other paths, and we will get together and say: Uruguay has come this far, we are going to negotiate all together, or Brazil will say: this is what we can offer Mercosur, and Uruguay agrees”, added Lacalle.
The president of Uruguay also clarified that his country belongs to Mercosur and that he is not going to change that vocation of belonging to the regional bloc. “Modern, flexible and open to the world”, he stressed, about his vision of the changes that have to be made.
The Brazilian president was received at the Suárez y Reyes presidential residence by Lacalle Pou at 12:30 local time (15:30 GMT) with whom he shook hands and posed for the local and international press present at the venue.
After the meeting with Lacalle, Pou Lula received the “Greenest” distinction, in which the Montevideo City Hall recognizes relevant personalities who make a substantial contribution to the environment, putting its care first.
The visit of the Brazilian Head of State ended with a meeting with former Uruguayan President José Mujica (2010-2020) at his residence on the outskirts of Montevideo.
[Con información de Reuters]