RIO DE JANEIRO, December 17 (Reuters) – A summit of South America’s Mercosur trade bloc ended on Friday without a final presidential statement as member countries failed to reach an agreement to cut import tariffs amid a backdrop sharp rise in inflation.
Members of Mercosur, a common market formed by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, have been discussing for years reducing the common external tariff to help increase trade between them and the rest of the world. Calls for a reduction have multiplied in recent months with rising inflation.
In November, the Brazilian government announced a 10% cut in import tariffs on 87% of goods and services, a move that should increase pressure on other Mercosur members to follow suit and portend a deal. on the common external tariff.
But on Friday, member states were unable to strike a deal after Uruguay refused to sign unless other countries agreed to let it negotiate its own unilateral free trade agreements without the blessing of the countries of Mercosur.
Mercosur rules veto this type of negotiation, and Argentina and Paraguay oppose it. Brazil is less opposed, according to Pedro Miguel da Costa e Silva, the main Brazilian negotiator of Mercosur.
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Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu, editing by Gabriel Stargardter and Rosalba O’Brien
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