Venezuela is fifth country to join Mercosul free-trade area

5 July 2006

Caracas, Venezuela, 05 July – Venezuela Tuesday signed a Membership Protocol for Mercosul, which set a four-year deadline for the country to join the South American free-trade union founded by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay in 1991.

The document was signed by the presidents of Argentina, Nestor Kirchner, brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Paraguay, Nicanor Duarte, Uruguay, Tabaré Vasquez and Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.

The protocol will be send to the parliaments of the five countries in the next 30 days, and within a maximum of six months they should ratify it in order for Venezuela to join the Southern Common Market (Mercosul/Mercosur).

The Venezuelan authorities have said they hope that being part of Mercosul will strengthen the commercial union and increase regional integration based on principles of cooperation, complementarities and respect for sovereignty.

Venezuela is the world’s fifth largest oil exporter, has the eighth largest gas reserve and the largest oil reserve on the planet with 235 billion barrels, according to official figures.

Mercosul initial began as a free trade area and later became a Customs Union, when in January 1995 a Common External Tariff was put in place.
These days Mercosul is an economic reality of continental dimensions. It has a total area of a little less than 12 million square kilometers, represents a potential market of 200 million people and a total GDP of US$1 trillion, which places it amongst the world’s four largest economies, right after Nafta (North American Free Trade Association), the European Union and Japan. (macauhub)