Brazil sees possibility of Mercosur-China free-trade deal

Montevideo, Jan 25 (EFE).- Brazil sees a free-trade agreement between Mercosur and China as a possibility and says it is prepared to discuss that initiative with the Asian giant.

Promoted by Uruguay, that proposal has been received very differently by the members of the South American trade bloc, whose full members also include Argentina and Paraguay.

“China is Brazil’s leading trade partner, and Brazil has a big surplus with China. We want to discuss a Mercosur-China agreement with our Chinese friends,” Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Wednesday during a visit to Uruguay.

In that regard, the Brazilian leader said it was “right and proper” for the neighboring country to push for this accord as part of its intention to defend its economy and its people.

“It’s only fair that they produce more and sell more, and that’s why opening up (their markets) as much as possible to other nations is important,” Lula said.

He also said with respect to the South American trade bloc that his country supports “the ideas of innovation” and trade opening more broadly, adding that it is “urgent and necessary” for Mercosur and the European Union to finally ratify a free-trade accord that has been more than two decades in the making.

“We’re going to intensify our discussions with the European Union,” said Lula, who as president-elect insisted last November that he intended to make modifications to a deal that was agreed to in principal in 2019.

After that is finalized, “we can then discuss a possible agreement between China and Mercosur, and I think it’s possible.”

Lula’s Uruguayan counterpart, Luis Lacalle Pou, expressed satisfaction with Brazil’s support for “perfecting Mercosur” and stressed the need for his country of just 3.4 million people to “open itself up to the world.”

Besides Mercosur, the two leaders discussed infrastructure works such as a waterway linking southern Brazil and northeastern Uruguay, a bi-national bridge in the eastern Uruguayan city of Rio Branco and a bi-national airport serving Rivera, Uruguay, and Sant’Ana do Livramento, Brazil. EFE


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