|A FRUSTRATED MUJICA CALLS FOR A READJUSTMENT OF MERCOSUR LEGAL FRAMEWORK|
Aruba, February 4, 2014 - Uruguayan president José Mujica said that members of Mercosur must readjust the block's legal framework ‘to make it work’ so that differences among its partners can be resolved in an institutional framework. He insisted on a review and amendment of mechanisms with greater flexibility and more adapted to current circumstances.
“We have this system properly established but it doesn’t solve differences that arise between countries”, Mujica said to local press. He added “we should face reality, be sincere and accept that these mechanisms don’t actually work, and start building new ones that fit our needs”.
”There is a serious internal problem, we need to review it, decide what works, what doesn't; we need more flexible instruments which we can effectively apply and are more responsive to current times“, insisted Mujica who has faced continued disputes with Argentina over trade, ports and pulp mills, among other issues.
”What we can't do is to continue with this sort of institutional lie, with the lyrics one way and the music the other way“. Last November, Uruguay filed a complaint at Mercosur against Buenos Aires that had prohibited Argentine export cargo transfers to Uruguayan ports. The Argentine measure was in reprisal for Mujica allowing a production increase at the UPM/Botnia pulp mill, a conflict which in the past reached the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
But Uruguay's November complaint has yet to be replied. ”Many times direct presidential diplomacy tends to substitute what is not working and should be working, which is the agreed institutional diplomacy“, complained the Uruguayan president.
Blocking Argentine exports from operating through Montevideo is costing Uruguay a significant loss of port activity and income, plus endangers major infrastructure projects such as a re-gasification plant in Montevideo and a deep water port along the Atlantic coast close to Brazil, which have been estimated with a percentage of Argentine demand to be satisfied.
Furthermore Uruguayan exports to the Argentine market have been delayed by Customs at Buenos Aires, which is having an impact on Uruguay manufacturers. Likewise strict foreign money controls in Argentina, although not specifically geared against Uruguay, are also having an impact on the current summer season when over 70% of arriving tourists are from Argentina.