MERCOSUR ON TIME, BRAZILIAN ENVOY SAYS

MERCOSUR ON TIME, BRAZILIAN ENVOY SAYS

The proposed deadline for phasing out tariff and investment barriers within the South American trade bloc Mercosur will be achieved, said Marcos Azambuja, Brazilian ambassador to Argentina.

He said that despite ongoing protests against reducing tariff protection for some industries in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, the political leadership in the four nations was committed to finding pragmatic solutions to achieve economic integration on Jan. 1, 1995.An example of this was Brazil's decision to increase purchases of crude oil and refined products from Argentina to reduce its bilateral trade surplus, he said. He spoke in an interview with the Ambito Financiero newspaper Monday.

Mr. Azambuja argued that trade imbalances within Mercosur were transitory, despite claims to the contrary by certain economic sectors that oppose the loss of tariff protection. He said Brazil's trade surplus with Argentina will be down 50 percent or more this year, compared with US$1.617 billion in 1992.

This will occur even as two-way commerce in 1993 is forecast to reach $6 billion, up from $5 billion last year.

He cited the automobile industry as one sector that already began realizing cost savings from joint ventures and integration of operations between Argentine and Brazilian vehicle producers and part suppliers.

The four nations have pledged to end tariff protection before Feb. 1 for half of the 160 goods and services not yet freely traded within Mercosur. The Argentine government last week announced it will meet the deadline despite opposition from the country's principal industrialists.