MONTEVIDEO, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Uruguay on Monday called for "opening up" and "modernizing" the Southern Common Market, or Mercosur.
"We need a bloc that is able and willing to project itself into new world dynamics and trends ... modern, willing and able to face the challenges of yesterday, today and tomorrow," said Uruguay's Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo at a meeting of ministers from the member countries of the trade group.
"If we don't allow ourselves to question the here and now, our bloc will be irretrievably condemned to failure and irrelevance," Bustillo said.
The bloc needs to be "capable of strengthening ties with other countries and blocs," the top diplomat said, reiterating Uruguay's position that Mercosur should diversify its trading partners.
Mercosur has 11 trade agreements in force, and only four of those agreements involve countries outside the South American region, he noted.
"We do not have an agreement with any of the 10 principal economic and trade powers in the world," Bustillo said.
Under Mercosur rules, Uruguay, as it has been requesting, has the right to pursue extra-regional trade agreements without authorization from the bloc, and last week it demanded to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
However, Mercosur's other founding members, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, reject Uruguay's interpretation of the regulations. ■