On 14 December 2016, the 11th Extraordinary Meeting of the MERCOSUR Common Market Council (CMC) was held at the Palacio San Martín, with the participation of the Foreign Ministers of the four State Parties signatories to the Asuncion Treaty (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay). On that occasion, Argentina again assumed the Presidency Pro Tempore of MERCOSUR, which it will hold for the first half of 2017. Thus, Argentina will lead the integration process for the next few months, and it will pursue actions to consolidate and strengthen MERCOSUR.
MERCOSUR is at the centre of Argentina's international insertion process, and over its first 25 years of existence, it has developed an extensive network of interests and channels for dialogue and cooperation between vast sectors of society which are fundamental engines for our development. In this context, Argentina's PPT will endeavour to work on three core objectives: progress in the removal of nontariff barriers that hinder intra-area trade flows, in order to create better conditions for business and give greater certainty to trade operators; perfecting the customs union through the progressive removal of exceptions in the common external tariff (CET) system; and pursuing an ambitious external relations agenda, promoting joint negotiation in accordance with the commitment undertaken in the Asuncion Treaty, paving the way for agreements with the European Union, the Pacific Alliance, South Korea, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), India, Canada and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), as well as fostering relations with the United States and China.
Also along these lines, Argentina’s PPT will seek to boost the formation of value chains in order to increase production and trade as a means to create genuine jobs; to facilitate trade through the implementation of single windows and digital document processing; to coordinate technical regulations through regulatory coherence, as a way of avoiding nontariff barriers; to boost agreements on sanitary and phytosanitary measures; to work to reach investment and public procurement agreements; and to incorporate new disciplines into MERCOSUR (such as e-trade, digital economy and SME policies).
In addition to this non-exhaustive list, MERCOSUR still has to allay doubts and answer questions from our society with regard to the new challenges posed by the dynamism of 21st-century productive processes. It should be borne in mind that new technologies and materials, the speed of communications and service flows, and the progressive reduction of customs duties while other kinds of trade barriers emerge are rapidly changing the way of doing business across the world. However, it is clear that—in spite of the multiple alternatives—all roads lead to models with regional integration at their core. We must therefore be aware of how fortunate we are to be in a region characterized by the absence of major conflict, populated with men and women with a vocation for collective work, and gifted with incomparable natural resources.
During its term, Argentina is committed to bringing frank, pragmatic and constructive dialogue with other partners to negotiation tables so that MERCOSUR will become consolidated as an instrument for development and job creation. From now on, in addition to working towards Argentina's international reinsertion—which has been done with great success over the past few months-, we will also be responsible for acting as spokespersons for our regional integration process, which remains the cornerstone of Argentina's international insertion.
The Argentine Foreign Ministry is committed to the strengthening and intensification of collective work with all sectors of the federal government, the provinces and the private sector, so as to achieve the best results and develop the best proposals to dynamize the integration process and make the most of the opportunities offered by the international context, in order to enhance well-being in our country and region.