MERCOSUR, Paraguayan Minister: We Need to Look at Countries with Same Vocation as Us

The EU, according to Ruben Ramirez, is instead hindering trade between the two blocs with its demands

Will 2024 be a good year for the EU-MERCOSUR agreement? The European Union and a group of South American countries reached a free trade agreement in 2019, but it was never ratified, on the one hand, due to “protectionist” concerns of some branches of the European agri-food sector (primarily French) and some restrictions, particularly environmental ones, that Brussels wanted to add to the treaties. The thing is that some members of MERCOSUR are wondering if it is better to change course. For example, Ruben Ramirez, Paraguay’s foreign minister, who spoke at the regular meeting of the Common Market Council (CMC), which brought together foreign ministers and delegations from member and associated countries in Asunción on July 7. On the occasion of the summit, the interim presidency of the bloc will also be transferred from Paraguay to Uruguay.

“We do not intend to succumb to or accept the imposition of protectionist policies by developed countries, which with their good intentions seek to establish measures that end up turning into obstacles and hindrances to trade,” Ramirez said, according to a report by La Nación, also explaining how important it is to open and expand markets, especially for a landlocked country like Paraguay.

But MERCOSUR should focus on countries with a similar vocation: openness. “We cannot continue to be stuck in processes where we have not achieved progress and results,” Ramirez added.

Argentine Foreign Minister Diana Mondino, representing the Milei government in Paraguay, explained that MERCOSUR needs an “adrenaline shock.” “The potential to expand the market and platforms for relations with the world is huge, but it has not yet been tapped.” Mondino, as reported by Italian news agency ANSA, criticized a certain inertia of the bloc: “It’s not about not moving forward, but the world is moving faster,” and then, in turn, suggested considering agreements with Vietnam, Indonesia, and some countries of Africa.