Latin America able to deal with global recession: LulaDecember 17th, 2008 - 4:52 pm ICT by IANS
Costa de Sauipe (Brazil), Dec 17 (IANS) Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said that the economic fundamentals of the South American common market or Mercosur bloc countries are strong enough to deal with the impact of the global financial crisis, EFE reported Wednesday.”Our strength to deal with the global recession lies not only in the strength of our economies but in the vitality of our democracies,” Lula said Tuesday during the inaugural session of the Mercosur summit.
The summit was attended by Cuban President Raul Castro as the Communist-ruled island was invited to the Latin American trade bloc for the first time.
Lula said that in general Latin American countries “have given similar responses” to the crisis and underscored that “the chief concern is to protect workers’ jobs and wages and to continue promoting social equality”.
The presidents of Mercosur members Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay attended the meeting along with their Bolivian and Ecuadoran counterparts as special invitees.
The vice presidents of Colombia and Peru also were present at the meeting at the Brazilian seaside resort town.
Brazil, which holds the rotating presidency of Mercosur, also invited the presidents of Guyana, Mexico, Panama and Suriname to Tuesday’s meeting.
In his address, Lula defended the need to increase South-South trade, insisted that countries of the region will not allow “setbacks to the improvement of people’s standard of living” and defended greater Mercosur participation in a new international financial architecture.
“Mercosur will not passively sit by and watch the debate on the world crisis. We want an important role in a new international architecture that is multipolar and multilateral,” the president said.
Even as Lula demanded a bigger role for the bloc, Brazil’s foreign minister was forced to acknowledge that Mercosur nations again failed to reach agreement on eliminating double tariffs on third-country imports passing between members of the trade bloc.
Speaking at Monday’s pre-summit session of the Mercosur Council, the bloc’s highest political body Celso Amorim said it was regrettable that negotiators were unable to reach an agreement on a matter considered a top priority.
“That will have consequences. It wasn’t just something we could leave for later. It’s going to make negotiations with other groups difficult, especially with the European Union,” the foreign minister said.
In the Mercosur, besides the tariff charged when goods are imported from nations outside the bloc, tariff is also charged a second time when the same goods are exported from one member to another, a regime that contradicts the principle of free trade within a bloc.