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Such inequities tend to make regional integration efforts counterproductive. Non-tariff barriers NTBs and rules of origin RO procedures act as an incentive to locate investment and production in the dominant market while leading to deindustrialisation in the peripheral ones. The constant disputes and conflicts between Brazil and Argentina on the subject of asymmetries and inequalities have to be seen in this context. To date, they have hindered the formulation of a common trade policy as a precursor to the longer term goal of a common market.

However, the windows of opportunity are small. Uruguay, has taken advantage of the free access to the Brazilian and Argentine markets. It has also extracted concessions from Argentina and Brazil by employing its veto power. In an effort to address its regional partner's concerns, Brazil has channelled investment in their direction, particularly towards Argentina during the s.

Its oil and gas company, Petrobras, is a leading investor. Argentina has also invested in Brazil, especially in connection with various industrial products. These cross-investment currents have also extended to Paraguay and Uruguay. Still, such strategies cannot offset asymmetrical economic power within the region. Paraguay has even less leverage within the framework and can only fulminate against regional economic disparities. These actions aim to strengthen the social dimensions of the integration process and to reduce inequalities.


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The creation of a Permanent Court of Dispute Settlement in was another step in the right direction. Last but not least, the block has re-emphasised its commitment to macro-economic and monetary cooperation. As Espino and Azar point out, 'although, this progress is very slow and fragmented', it represents an important 'chance of stepping forward to build a shared space for sustainable development' Espino and Azar 4.

Despite the identified shortcomings in MERCOSUR's institutional framework and trade performance, its overall purpose of creating a common market has been steadily reaffirmed. In order to advance and institutionalise the process of economic and monetary integration, the four member states have created two collegiate and inter-governmental organs. The Common Market Group CMG — coordinated by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs — represents its executive body, charged with the implementation of CMC's consensual decisions through the initiation of practical measures for trade promotion, the coordination of macro-economic policies, and negotiations with third parties.

The CMG is assisted by ten working groups in the areas of trade and customs issues; standards; trade related monetary and fiscal policies; infrastructure; energy policy; and the coordination of macro-economic policies. This commission is responsible for the technical negotiations required to design and enforce common trade policy instruments.

Although MERCOSUR has evolved — in spite of its political roots — as a predominantly commercial initiative, based on the successful implementation of a trade liberalisation programme, it has gradually incorporated a variety of non-trade issues in its agenda. Referring to the inherent 'trade and cooperation linkage', which distinguishes its integration scheme from a purely free trade agreement, such as NAFTA, the block seeks a broad cooperation process in a wide range of socio-political areas such as education, justice, environment, energy, technology, health and foreign policy.

Addressing these areas is considered crucial for the establishment of a 'community sense' and a regional identity, based on shared values and principles Costa Vaz This charter addresses labour issues and improved working conditions.

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Made up of national representatives of the different economic and social sectors, the forum serves as an advisory board to the CMC. The main objective of this Fund for Structural Convergence of MERCOSUR FOCEM is to develop competitiveness; to encourage social cohesion, particularly in the smaller economies and least developed regions; to support the functioning of the institutional structure; and to strengthen the integration process. Presently, the fund is undercapitalised in view of the large number of people living below the poverty line in the Southern Cone approximately 95 million according to ECLAC This framework aims to foster regional sustainable development through the harmonisation of national environmental standards, the sharing of information on environmental emergencies, and research promotion for clean technology.

Entering into force in June , the agreement focuses on the intra-regional elimination of environmental NTBs; the implementation of a bloc-wide system of environmental information sharing; the creation of guidelines for environmental emergencies, as well as for international environmental standards; and the introduction of a region-wide system of eco-labelling. As the regional integration process proceeds towards the integration of policy disciplines, there is an increasing need to embed them in a strong and supportive institutional framework, which is capable of resolving disputes arising from treaty obligations.


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  6. A key imperative, driven by MERCOSUR's distinctive intra-regional power asymmetries, is that the dispute settlement mechanism serves not only to prevent the escalation of retaliation measures, but also guarantees that the bloc's weaker states can effectively push the stronger ones to comply with their obligations. In the early stages of the integration process, the governments were reluctant to establish an independent judicial body, preferring a flexible and cost-effective inter-governmental process based on political negotiations and an ad hoc tribunal.

    The Protocol of Brasilia for the Solution of Controversies provided two diplomatic measures consultations and claims , but only one arbitration procedure. While consultations are supposed to settle minor disputes through direct negotiations, claims are designed to resolve more awkward conflicts.

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    Such claims need to be initiated by a national section within the Mercosur Trade Commission. If the plenary session of the commission does not resolve the case, it is sent to a technical committee, which issues a non-binding recommendation to the Trade Commission. If there is still no consensus, the claim may be forwarded to the CMG, which may, as a last step, activate the arbitration mechanism. The arbitration proceedings finally take part under an ad hoc tribunal composed of three members.

    After a series of negotiations under the intervention of the CMG, mandatory and final determinations are issued. In the repeated event of non-compliance, retaliation may be the ultimate response. This minimalist jurisdictional architecture, based on consensus and diplomatic cooperation, proved to be effective at the initial stages when interdependence was relatively low and political commitment high.

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    Its shortcomings became apparent in the aftermath of Brazil's currency devaluation in when Argentina imposed unilateral trade barriers in order to protect its domestic market from the flood of Brazilian manufactures, the affected private parties had no institutional bodies within MERCOSUR they could revert to in order to redress their grievances O'Keefe Other claims were raised by the smaller states, lacking sufficient political leverage to ensure their unrestricted market access.

    In a climate of retaliation, the absence of an independent supra-national court with permanent arbitrators becomes a serious hindrance to intra-regional trade.

    In order to minimise such trade disruptions and its political ramifications, the Protocol of Olivos introduced a number of innovations. Among these, the establishment of a post-decision control mechanism and the creation of a permanent review court were the most noteworthy Pena and Rozenberg 9. The post-ruling control strengthens the obligatory nature of the arbitration decisions by invoking possible compensation in case of a member state's non-compliance. The Permanent Review Court has a twofold responsibility: reviewing the tribunal's decision; and providing an alternative to ad hoc arbitration, where the parties may submit their disputes directly to the court without having to go through the arbitration process.

    In a recent case, the tribunal met in Montevideo, Uruguay, to arbitrate the ongoing dispute between Argentina and Uruguay over a water-contaminating pulp mill plant to be installed close to the Uruguay River, a natural border between both countries. The tribunal, assembled in early September , included legal representatives from both countries and a neutral arbitrator. Admittedly these are preliminary initiatives, but they pave the way for strengthening supra-national arbitration institutions in the Southern Cone.

    Tensions among member states had declined noticeably. In conjunction with their neighbours, the member states had intensified efforts to settle territorial disputes, 14 and conflicts in the field of trade and investment were mitigated through enhanced political cooperation and the institutionalisation of CBMs. As mentioned, the concept of 'open regionalism' underpinned the integration process emphasising external opening, privatisation, deregulation and democratic governance. This approach reduced implicit and explicit security threats. In fact, such intervention effectively put an end to the persistent threat of military coups in the whole region Vasconcelos O'Keefe noted that the so-called 'democracy clause' in the Treaty of Ushuaia provided 'a way to strengthen weak democracies by requiring liberal democracy and respect for human rights as a condition for entry and continued access to the benefits of membership' O'Keefe Social and political conflicts, induced by the trade in narcotics and international terrorism, become more prevalent and produced spillover effects.

    marvenamade.cf The need for a concerted regional response is clearly evident but not forthcoming. A major obstruction is the combination of interdependency and inequality within the region Bodemer Hafner-Burton and Montgomery's condition that 'trade institutions can keep the peace … when they create ties among states with relatively equal social positions within the international political economy' is far from being fulfilled in the Southern Cone Hafner-Burton and Montgomery The lacunae in macro-economic and monetary integration are a symptom of the glaring inter-state asymmetries, which inhibit further progress towards conciliation and integration.

    Compounding these asymmetries are the diverging foreign policy objectives, expressed inter alia by Argentina's efforts to counteract Brazil's lobbying for a seat in the United Nations Security Council UNSC Brown et al. The popular backlash against globalisation and free trade in Latin America has stalled the politico-economic convergence process even further. There has been a re-emergence of nationalistic rhetoric and a revival of old protectionist import-substitution nostrums.


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    6. The MERCOSUR undoubtedly exemplifies the positive connection between regional economic integration and security, yet the process is far from being complete. Only by strengthening it with efficient conflict-solving mechanisms and instituting a fair and equitable distribution of benefits for all, will its members be able to secure peace in the long-term future.

      Its goals were to improve the conditions for participation of the less developed countries encompassed by the LAFTA agreements, while simultaneously aiming at the gradual formation of a Latin American Common Market. The Andean Pact attempted to compensate for its inefficiencies by fostering further integration. The pact did not make much headway either. Venezuela's entrance in and Chile's withdrawal in created disarray among the members. They countered through institutional initiatives such as the creation of the Court of Justice and the Andean Parliament in However, these institutions lacked real weight — in neofunctionalist terms, 'form took precedence over substance' Malamud 10— Nonetheless, they set the institutional groundwork for a viable regional bloc.

      This constitutes a set of bodies and institutions 'designed to allow for an effective coordination between them in order to maximize subregional Andean integration, promote their external projection and strengthen the actions related to the integration process'. Still, the CAN has not been uplifted by its network of institutions. This is in addition to efforts such as intelligence sharing and ending arms trafficking. While these provide some regional sense of security, they do little to forestall internal conflict.

      Indeed, a new instability cycle has emerged in the central Andes. Michael Weinstein refers to the 'massive protest marches, roadblocks, the taking of official installations, regional rebellions, government alienation and an attempt by governments to extend their powers in an unconstitutional manner' Gonzalez and Luis 1—2. In all the member countries, with the exception of Venezuela, subversive groups run riot, revealing the substantial capacity of the indigenous population for mobilised action.

      Similarly, treaties and declarations have done little to erase tensions caused by border disputes. The case of Ecuador and Peru demonstrates that '[b]oundary-related conflict occurs even between partners to preferential trade agreements' Dominguez et al. Border disputes between these two countries date back to , 'based on the imprecise borders drawn by Spanish authorities during colonization' Cooper The —41 war was settled with a demarcation of the border by a third party a Brazilian mediator, Braz Dias de Aguiar whom Ecuador did not accept.

      Subsequently, despite a status quo agreement in , war broke out between the two countries again in International intermediaries, mostly from South America, negotiated a resolution to the chagrin of some nationalist groups. Currently, there is insufficient evidence to link reduced tension and political instability with CAN membership. Nor does it explain why, despite such membership, intra-regional commerce is low, constituting only 10 per cent of total trade. However, this figure was registered in , after declining for two consecutive years CEPAL While intra-regional trade flows fall below what would be expected in a trading bloc, they are still significant compared to those recorded prior to the establishment of the Andean Free Trade Area AFTA.

      The bloc's overall trade performance does more to justify its continuation. An extenuating factor is that political affinity or its absence thereof does not explain trade preferences. Thus trade flows between Colombia and Venezuela, the largest in the CAN at 75 and 65 per cent respectively , belie the tension existing between the two countries Cooper Colombia is currently home to the most intense and complex IAC in the region, with a history of conflicts dating back to the nineteenth century.

      The recent conflict is associated with the guerrilla movement that emerged in the s, in the aftermath of 'La Violencia' , a civil war that took place between and Initially a political and ideological Cooper movement that sought an end to socio-economic injustice perpetuated by a corrupt government, it has now become a full-fledged civil war pitching the left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitary groups and the Colombian government against each other.

      Attempted peace negotiations have not been fruitful. These tend to break down because of the 'zero-sum mentality in which only one victory is acceptable' Azcarate Unfortunately, the breakdown of negotiations does not signal a cool-down period, but a return to business as usual. Besides the loss of human lives nearly 7, people died between July and June , this IAC has serious economic consequences. The cost of the conflict has been monetised at 1.

      Also, starting in , a drop in productivity has caused the rate of expansion of the GDP to go down after registering a constant growth at 5 per cent for the last 30 years. Clearly, violence heightens uncertainty and raises the costs of doing business. According to one estimate, an increase of 1 per cent in the homicide rate is enough to drop private investment by 0. The attendant expected drop in long-term growth is estimated at 8 per cent of GDP Caballero Argaez Also, the informal economy has expanded.

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      This is mostly due to the conflict's shift from political and ideological objectives to pecuniary ones Ballentine and Nitzschke 6. This new paradigm redefines the conflict as a fight for the control and influence of forest areas dedicated to growing and processing cocaine Azcarate 22— The combatant pool has also increased to include drug dealers and farmers.