By Gian Luca Gardini (auth.)
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Additional resources for The Origins of Mercosur: Democracy and Regionalization in South America
Shared concerns vis-à-vis the United States reinforced the idea that a common front would better defend Argentina’s and Brazil’s interests internationally. In the economic sphere, long-term forces and circumstances specific to the first half of the 1980s were at work. The debt burden, competition on the world markets, and the exhaustion of the existing development models provided Argentina and Brazil with common challenges but also with incentives to find common solutions thus promoting closer relations.
The United States and the European Economic Community (EEC), two traditional markets for Argentine and Brazilian goods, increased protectionism, targeting both agricultural produce and manufactured goods. Furthermore, these industrialized countries accompanied protectionism with export incentives to facilitate national producers’ competitiveness in third markets. This situation was a stimulus to forms of South-South cooperation in two ways. First, the search for new markets reinforced the Latin American orientation of Argentina and Brazil, and induced them to look at each other’s market.
When Oscar Camilión became minister of foreign affairs in 1981, he supported the activities of the group, which informally gathered high rank officials, mostly at the level of undersecretaries. The legacy of the group is not clear, nor is its actual influence on future developments of integration. 41 However, two interesting ideas were generated. First, the group concluded that the private sector had to be actively involved in the integration process. 42 After a number of meetings held over two years, the group reached the conclusion that Argentina and Brazil were not ready for economic integration and terminated its activity.