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Brazil calls for better integrated trading bloc

Posted on Dec 08, 12:37PM | IANS

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has called for a better integrated and more socially committed Mercosur trade bloc, to help South America ride out the international economic crisis.

During a high-level Mercosur summit in Brazil's capital Brasilia, Rousseff Friday said the ripple effects of the crisis in the eurozone and the US highlighted the need to strengthen the bloc further, reported Xinhua.

"The global crisis makes the importance of integration even more evident", and a better integrated bloc "will make us stronger and more able to face the turbulences of the international market," said Rousseff.

Together, the five member countries of the Southern Common Market, or Mercosur, make up the fifth largest economy in the world, stressed Rousseff.

Despite the crisis, transactions between members have increased significantly, reaching USD 62 billion last year, she said.

"That is very significant, given the low growth rates and even recession of the global economy," she added.

According to Rousseff, "in a world in which unemployment and inequality increase, Latin America can make -- and does make -- a great difference".

On the current suspension of Paraguay from the trade bloc, Rousseff said it was not damaging to the country's population or economy.

Paraguay was suspended last summer for its hasty impeachment and replacement of liberal President Fernando Lugo, a move seen as counter to the bloc's democratic principles. The other members, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and, most recently, Venezuela, have agreed to lift the suspension once Paraguay holds general elections in April 2013.

"While we wait for the resumption of democratic normalcy in Paraguay, we have maintained our commitment to the well-being of the Paraguayan people, discarding measures that could make trade and investment flows with our neighbor more difficult," she said.

Paraguay was also suspended from the South American Union (Unasur).