Focus on Potential trade pact – Canada and Mercosur

by Dave

Ottawa Citizen

A trade agreement between Canada and MERCOSUR is not just possible, it’s necessary, said Pedro Vaz Ramela, Uruguay’s deputy minister of foreign affairs.

Mr. Ramela was in Ottawa this week for the third round of Canada-Uruguay bilateral foreign policy consultations. He met with Len Edwards, deputy minister of foreign affairs. The deputy minister said he’d consider the visit successful if he left with a clearer roadmap for future conversations under the same bilateral framework.

Uruguayan officials have, in the past, come to Ottawa to lobby for a trade deal between Canada and MERCOSUR, a regional trade agreement that involves Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay principally but also Venezuela, which is waiting to become a full member. Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are associate members while Mexico is an observer.

“We (MERCOSUR) proposed to have four or five conversations in the near future, one is with Canada. We think Canada-MERCOSUR should have priority. In the present situation, it’s time to move, to try to reach some new levels with some countries, or international actors, and one of them is Canada,” Mr. Vaz Ramela said.

Mr. Vaz Ramela said the economic cooperation between the two countries is already strong, but “it could be better.” Uruguay, he pointed out, has recovered from an economic crisis in 2002 and has seen growth of seven per cent per year recently.

“This is, for us, key because Uruguay has probably one of the best environments for investment in the region. For Canada, it’s a chance to use Uruguay as a platform for the sub-region. We are, in a way, a gateway for the sub-region of MERCOSUR. It could be interesting for Canadian businessmen to take a look at Uruguay, because of the legal framework for investment, the political decisions of the government, the geopolitical situation and our expertise in terms of services and logistics, as well as our growing ports and transport system.
Uruguay is an attractive and safe place. Canada could take profit of our vision for a better relationship in various areas.”