Uruguay and China begin to negotiate a free trade agreement

Uruguay and China will begin talks in the coming days to seal a FTA (FTA) outside Mercosur, after the “positive” completion of the feasibility study carried out by both nations.

This was stated this Wednesday by President Luis Lacalle Pou during a press conference held at the Executive Tower of Montevideo, from where he also assessed the position of “open up to the world” that the South American country has.

“You are well aware that since this government took office, despite the pandemic, we have had a foreign relations policy of linking with the world with a clearly open-minded vocation,” said the president.

And he continued: “What began in September 2021, which was the feasibility agreement in conjunction with the People’s Republic of China, has concluded and, with satisfaction, we can say that this conclusion is positive, that we have reached a agreement that is beneficial for both countries and now yes, formally start the negotiation for a Free Trade Agreement

The president of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou, had crosses with Alberto Fernández due to the commercial policies of Mercosur. Photo PABLO PORCIUNCUL / AFP).

“The agreements mean prosperity, opportunities and work. Our vigilance since the beginning of the government is to try to sell, to trade the products, the raw material, the industrialized and the technology of our country”, he stressed.

The president of the River Plate country had made public in September 2021 that Uruguay and China intended to advance an agreement of these characteristics, despite the Mercosur’s position of not allowing countries to negotiate agreements outside the bloc.

When asked about this issue, Lacalle Pou said that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Francisco Bustillo, has already communicated with the foreign ministers or with the accredited ambassadors of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.

“In each Mercosur summit and in each instance that we have had, we reaffirm the Uruguayan opening vocation. This does not contravene or oppose bloc membership,” she emphasized.

Luis Lacalle Pou detailed his negotiations with China outside Mercosur.  EFE photo.

Luis Lacalle Pou detailed his negotiations with China outside Mercosur. EFE photo.

In accordance with that, he added: “From our point of view and with the international regulations in force in Mercosur, we are enabled to move forward. We have also always said that we do not want to advance alone, we all know the weight that Mercosur has in demographic and economic dimensions to advance together. What Uruguay was not willing to do was stay put.”

Likewise, he said that he communicated the news to the leaders of all the parties that make up the government coalition and also to those of the opposition political forces.

Tension in Mercosur

Uruguay’s intention to advance in free trade agreements outside the bloc was one of the points of greatest conflict in the latest Mercosur meetings, especially Argentina, which insists that this type of negotiations requires the consensus of the partners.

At the end of 2021, after Lacalle Pou’s advance payment, the then Minister of Production, Matías Kulfas, complained: “It is clear that Uruguay is a sovereign country and can make the most convenient decision. It can make a bilateral agreement with China outside of Mercosur or you can continue in Mercosur“.

It was almost a warning and in the same tone in which Alberto Fernández answered the Uruguayan president when the latter said that he did not want the bloc to become a burden for the partners. Then the Argentine president said that whoever wanted “abandon ship“That it did so, due to the desire of the Uruguayans to sign agreements with third countries.

With information from EFE.

ES​

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