Mercosur is an acronym used to refer to the Common Market of the South, a regional process of political and economic integration among the countries that make up the South American continent. It is considered an economic power with more than 80% of all South America and 70% of its total population, in a territory of 13,000,000 square kilometers.
It is also the commercial area and the most dynamic industrial sector in the entire southern hemisphere. Considering that both Argentina and Brazil are members of the G-20 (Group of twenty industrialized and emerging countries) and, in addition, Brazil is considered the sixth largest economy in the world, its importance at a global level will be understood. As if that were not enough, the inclusion of Venezuela, despite the political difficulties that it introduced to the bloc, added to the bloc the largest oil reserves on the planet.
Mercosur member countries debate the matters of regional importance through a system of voice and vote, while being governed by a Democratic Charter that excludes the countries of dictatorial or totalitarian governments from the bloc. This also establishes a free trade zone and common tariff agreements among the members, in addition to other integration mechanisms such as the free movement of citizens through the bloc countries.
In addition, they have established trade agreements with countries and entities outside the bloc, as well as unique patents, legal agreements and banking entities belonging to the southern bloc.
The official languages of Mercosur are Spanish, Portuguese and Guaraní.
Countries that make up Mercosur
Mercosur started in 1991 with the signing of the Treaty of Asunción by Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil, a gesture of regional fraternity that had a direct precedent in the Declaration of Foz de Iguazú of 1985, a regional integration agreement between Brazil and Argentina. All these countries are today full members of Mercosur.
Subsequently, in 2012 Venezuela entered the community as a full member, although it is currently suspended from it; while Bolivia has been in the process of joining the bloc since 2012. Beyond the member states o States parties, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Guyana and Suriname also appear as associated States, and Mexico and New Zealand as observer States.
Mercosur is made up of the following bodies:
- Parlasur or Parliament of the South. Legislative body of the bloc with representation from all member countries.
- Mercosur Secretariat. Administrative body of the bloc, whose head is occupied by one of the full member countries, in a rotating presidency position in alphabetical order.
- Mercosur Permanent Review Tribunal. Common judicial body in which legal conflicts are settled.
- Economic Consultative Forum. Organ of participation of the civil society of the member countries.
- Summits of Heads of State. On an occasional call, they bring together the presidents of the member countries to issue pronouncements and statements on behalf of the entire bloc.
Examples of Mercosur objectives
- Deepen regional integration. In this measure, Mercosur intends to build legal, diplomatic, cultural and economic bridges between the various member and associated countries, in order to overcome the divisions between the countries of this region that, despite their diversity, have origins, problems and sister cultures.
- Strengthen the capacities of the members of the bloc. Mercosur understands itself as a mechanism to strengthen the economies and democracies of the member countries, finding a common path towards a future of progress, equality and peace. In this sense, the sense of regional belonging, peaceful dialogue, fair exchange and adherence to democratic values are promoted as something fundamental to belong to the bloc.
- Reduce asymmetries between block members. This is a much debated objective and needed especially by the weakest countries of the bloc, which in the face of colossal economies such as Brazil could be financially damaged by the free trade zone. Mercosur intends to find the appropriate rules of exchange to foster mutual support and equal growth of its members and avoid unequal and unfair integration that benefits only the strongest economies.
- Horizontally exchange knowledge and experiences. Not only between the countries of the bloc, but also with other countries and other economic associations in the world, such as the European Union. This always taking into consideration the mutual benefit, the role of local actors, equity, solidarity and respect as the very pillars of all kinds of exchange.
- Achieve political horizontality. The member countries of Mercosur undertake to settle their differences diplomatically and to contemplate their peers from an egalitarian perspective, with no room for relations of domination or subjugation of any kind. At the same time, the bloc is constituted as a form of regional resistance in the face of the tensions of the great world powers, rejecting imperialism and economic dependence.