Mercosur Summit Discusses Venezuela-Colombia Situation

The 39th president’s summit of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) considered the tense situation between Colombia and Venezuela. Also, after years of discussion, it approved joint customs regulations.

By Tamara Pearson - Venezuelanalysis.com

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Mercosur participating heads of states and leaders (Prensa Presidencial)
Mercosur participating heads of states and leaders (Prensa Presidencial)
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Merida, August 5th, 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The 39th president’s summit of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) that took place on Tuesday in Argentina, considered the discussions by the extraordinary meeting of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) last week regarding the tense situation between Colombia and Venezuela. Also, after years of discussion, it approved joint customs regulations.

Mercosur is a trade bloc consisting of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, with Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela as associate members.

The Colombian government went to the Organisation of American States (OAS) to accuse Venezuela of supposedly “protecting” guerrillas, whereupon Venezuela requested a meeting of UNASUR to discuss the situation. UNASUR agreed on general notions of peace but failed to reach concrete consensus and called for a presidential Summit of UNASUR members.

On Tuesday, Mercosur formally decided to “take note” of the report issued by the foreign ministers about the UNASUR meeting on 29 July, welcomed the “effort and commitment” put in by UNASUR, and supported the ministers’ resolution to quickly organise an extraordinary meeting of the heads of state of the regional organisation.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, representing the Venezuelan president who could not attend for health reasons, said after the Mercosur meeting, “We hope that in the next few days the complex situations threatening the peace of our country will be overcome.”

Maduro also called on the Paraguayan congress to approve Venezuela’s full membership to Mercosur. Venezuela became an associated state of Mercosur in 2004 and a full member in 2006, while Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay have ratified its full membership, it is still waiting for the approval of Paraguay.

Maduro suggested Paraguay “consider the statistics.” He cited the increased commercial relations between Venezuela and Mercosur, which have grown from $2 billion to $28 billion.

A common customs code

The trade block also agreed on a common customs code to speed up and reduce the cost of commerce in South America.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said the move showed that Mercosur is a forum for “action not just talk” and they had managed to agree on a formula despite a range of differences.

Mercosur has long wanted to eliminate double-taxation and related transport delays on imports that move through one member country to reach another.

The details have yet to be worked out, but the four member nations agreed to eliminate double-taxation of goods imported from outside Mercosur that are shipped as-is through one country to another, from 1 January 2012.

By 2014, they will eliminate double-taxation of imported goods that receive some added value in one Mercosur nation before reaching another.

Finally, they will create a single Mercosur customs declaration, unifying terms so that taxes on imports as well as exports can be calculated and shared across Mercosur.