President Luis Lacalle Pou confirmed that he will “surely” travel to China in November with the aim of personally achieving progress in the negotiation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Uruguay and the Asian giant, after more than a year without concrete news in this regard.
Although in the process and during the last months there were some glimpses of hope and optimism, the truth is that as the weeks go by, resignation is the dominant feeling when the FTA is put on the discussion table. The conversations with Brazil had allowed us to expect certain gradual progress, but the difficulties that the signing of the agreement between the Mercosur and the European Union (EU) —priority of the Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva before sitting down to discuss any other trade agreement—were another bucket of cold water to Uruguay’s objectives of moving forward on its own path.
In that sense, and after the previous trips made by the ministers of External relationships, Francisco Bustillo, and of Livestock, Agriculture and Fishing (MGAP), Fernando Mattos, to the Asian continent—with the same objective overlapping between a bulging diplomatic agenda—; Lacalle Pou He is getting ready to visit China before the end of the year, as he confirmed to Radio Carve.
“We are taking the jug to the source. “I don’t rule it out,” the president said about his intention to put the FTA up for discussion personally. Optimism is not yet completely abandoned, as he noted that “There are still 540 days (of government) left”. Although he assured that “If it is not achieved, it would be frustrating for me”.
For Lacalle Pou, likewise, “obviously there is a Argentine and Brazilian will about what Uruguay do not make an agreement with China and surely there have been diplomatic efforts to prevent it from happening,” he accused, in line with previous statements in this regard. However, when asked about the possibility that a change of government in Argentina allows the country to clear the way in terms of international negotiations, the president guarded himself: “This question requires me to get involved and I am not going to get involved.”
“I am here until March 1, 2025, whoever comes, we will see what he is going to do. I suppose that this historic national strategy is not going to stop; we put the outboard motor and we advanced more than other governments, but I think that the possibility that Uruguay moves freely in the world to be able to trade is on the hard drive of any leader who wants to be president of the Republic,” the president concluded.
Without tools for exchange delay
During the same radio interview, the president Luis Lacalle Pou recognized the exchange delay that is experienced in Uruguay and that strongly affects the agriculture and export sectors due to the loss of competitiveness; and assured that the government is “doing everything possible” to correct the misalignment of the exchange rate.
According to the head of state, during the meeting he held with the Rural Association of Uruguay (ARU) It was “very good, although we didn’t always agree on everything.” In that line, the dollar theme was one of those that was put on the table, an issue in which he considered that the country should be seen as integrated, although he also recognized that it affects a fundamental sector, which also adds “to the drought, to the poor harvest soy, cattle prices that they are not the best.” This “generates a loss of competitiveness combo”.
“We are worried about the exchange rate delayand we take the measures within our reach,” he said. Lacalle Pou, and added that “I hope the dollar rises, that it is closer to 40 pesos”. His statements are similar to those he had at the beginning of June, when he indicated that the government would try to appreciate the currency to 39 or 40 pesos. At that time, the price was 38,743 pesos, while today it is barely above 38 pesos—and after an exceptional rise in recent days that managed to place the currency above the range of 37 pesos, where it was for 23 consecutive days.
Beyond the concern expressed in this regard, the president acknowledged that the government does not have many tools to reverse the exchange rate delay. “One is what public companies have done in the purchase of currencies and the other is the central bank lowering the interest rate.”