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LATIN AMERICA | 24-10-2019 09:53

Bolsonaro threatens Mercosur sanctions against Argentina if Fernández wins

Outspoken Brazilian leader described potential Frente de Todos victory as “a threat to the Mercosur.”

Jair Bolsonaro has threatened to slap Argentina with sanctions from the Mercosur, should Frente de Todos presidential candidate Alberto Fernández win Sunday's presidential election and move to alter the trade bloc's current direction

The outspoken Brazilian president warned he would push such penalties should a Fernández government move away from lowering tariffs and back out of free-trade agreements made by the bloc, which is also currently comprised of Uruguay and Paraguay. 

A Frente de Todos victory “would jeopardise all of Mercosur,” Bolsonaro said during comments in Japan, part of a tour around Asia. 

Paraguay comparison

The far-right Brazilian leader likened the potential decision to that of 2012, when the bloc suspended Paraguay as a result of the impeachment process that removed then president Fernando Lugo from office. 

“We know that the return of the São Paulo forum [a reference to a conference of leftist Latin American political parties and other organisations founded in 1009], holding hands with Cristina Kirchner de Fernández threatens Mercosur, and we have to have an alternative,” he said. 

He reflected on his own objectives for Brazil, saying his role is “not to facilitate the formation of a Bolivarian movement on the left, but to open the market for global commerce.” 

In December, at the Mercosur summit in Bento Gonçalves in the Rio de Grande do Sul, Brazil, a plan was put in place to reduce import fees and to modify the tariff plan that governs the South American bloc. 

Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo said tensions with a Frente de Todos government would also generate doubts about the agreement between Mercosur and the European Union.

Factory workers protest

Local industry will be affected by Bolsonaro’s proposed reductions in import tax and expansion of free trade. Brazil’s Economy Minister Pablo Guedes indicates that the import tax would fall from 13.4 percent to 6.4 percent, according to Valor. 

Factory workers have already protested against the tax because they believe it will benefit the import of products from China , the principal trade partner of Brazil since 2009. 

“We need to open, but we need to do it gradually. Doing it at this pace could be harmful,” said Luiz Carlos Moraes, President of the Association of Vehicle Factory Workers. 

--TelAm

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