Mercosur, the trade union between Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, has always struggled to reach true integration. Since 1991, when the Asunción Treaty was signed, the bloc has never fully developed into anything remotely resembling the European Union or other trade associations around the world.
Part of the blame for this resides in the fact that its member countries are just too different — both in terms of their size and economic potential, and their actual interests. And in recent years, it looked as if the trade bloc was on the cusp of collapse.
But last week, one notable deal breathed new life into Mercosur.
Listen and subscribe to our podcast from your mobile device:
- André Spigariol covers Brazilian foreign policy, politics, and economics. He has been published by several media outlets in Latin America, including Vortex Media, Spotniks, Congresso em Foco, La Tercera, CNN Chile, Radio Cooperativa, among others.
- Ignacio Portes is The Brazilian Report’s Buenos Aires correspondent. He writes the Latin America Weekly newsletter and covers affairs around the continent. He previously worked for the Buenos Aires Herald and The Bubble, and has written for outlets such as Al Jazeera and The Financial Times.
This episode used the music “Infados” by Kevin MacLeod and “Lurking” by Silent Partner, from the YouTube Audio Library.
- In a meeting that didn’t include Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, Brazil and Argentina reached a deal which breathes new life into Mercosur.
- The deal is particularly noteworthy considering the fractured relationship between Brazil and Argentina — a reflection of the gulf between Presidents Jair Bolsonaro and Alberto Fernández.
- Early in 2020, Buenos Aires used the coronavirus as cover to promote a drastic policy shift into a more protectionist stance — exiting Mercosur negotiations and upending trade deals. One of these deals is the agreement between the South American bloc and the European Union.
- Uruguay, Mercosur’s smallest member, wants a bilateral China deal of its own, but needs to move fast before regional dynamics shift against it.
- Listen to Explaining Brazil’s episode #12, “Brazil and Mercosur.” We explain why the trade union between Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay has been underperforming for the past 27 years of its existence.
Do you have a suggestion for our next Explaining Brazil podcast? Drop us a line at [email protected]