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Mercosur; Venezuela: Venezuela Joins Trade Bloc

(Aug. 3, 2012) On July 4, 2006, Venezuela signed the adhesion protocol to Mercosur, which established a four-year term for full incorporation into the economic bloc. (Mercosul, Venezuela Consolida Participação, VEJA ON-LINE (July 5, 2006).)

Six years later, on July 31, 2012, Venezuela was officially admitted to full membership in the Mercosur trade bloc, formed by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. In a ceremony at the Brazilian presidency headquarters, in the presence of Brazilian President Dilma Roussef, Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner, and Uruguayan President José Mujica, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said that “the admittance of Venezuela to the bloc will help the country get rid of the ‘petroleum model’ enabling the county to develop the industrial sector and as a consequence diminish the country’s dependence on the oil industry.” (Chávez: no Mercosul, Venezuela poderá se Livrar de “Modelo Petroleiro,” O GLOBO (July 31, 2012).) Due to the impeachment of President Fernando Lugo, Paraguay has been suspended from participating in Mercosur until March 2013, when presidential elections are scheduled. (Id.)

Roussef emphasized that with the admission of Venezuela, the bloc becomes the fifth largest economic power in the world, while Kirchner mentioned that this was a historic day that many people did not believe possible, and Mujica said that the admittance to the bloc was a landmark and invited the political leaders to pay attention to the poorest nations. (Id.)

As a full member, Venezuela brings its oil reserves to the bloc and will have access to cheaper agricultural products. As a bloc, Mercosur now has expanded its reach from Patagonia to the Caribbean.

Background Information

Mercosur (the Southern Common Market) is a trade bloc that was founded on March 26, 1991, when Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay signed the Treaty of Asunción, which established a common market that began operations on December 31, 1994. On December 17, 1994, the countries signed the Protocol of Ouro Preto to supplement the Treaty of Asunción and to establish the institutional structure of Mercosur.

According to article I of the Treaty of Asunción, the purpose of the common market is to bring about:

The free movement of goods, services and factors of production between countries through, inter alia, the elimination of customs duties and non-tariff restrictions on the movement of goods, and any other equivalent measures;

The establishment of a common external tariff and the adoption of a common trade policy in relation to third States or groups of States, and the co-ordination of positions in regional and international economic and commercial forums;

The co-ordination of macroeconomic and sectoral policies between the States Parties in the areas of foreign trade, agriculture, industry, fiscal and monetary matters, foreign exchange and capital, services, customs, transport and communications and any other areas that may be agreed upon, in order to ensure proper competition between the States Parties; [and]

The commitment by States Parties to harmonize their legislation in the relevant areas in order to strengthen the integration process. (Treaty of Asunción, supra.)