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Uruguay’s Free Trade Talks With China and Desire to Enter Pacific Trade Pact Upsets Regional Neighbors

Uruguay's President Luis Lacalle Pou gestures as he leaves the leaders' summit of Mercosur and associated countries in Montevideo on December 6, 2022. Eitan ABRAMOVICH / AFP

Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou came under intense criticism from fellow leaders within the South American trading bloc known as Mercosur earlier this month over his government’s moves to strike a free trade agreement with China and to enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership (aka CPTPP) trade bloc.

Why are other Mercosur members upset? The main concern of other members is that bilateral deals, especially with major powers like China, will undermine the ability to negotiate as a bloc. “The solution is not for each one of us just to do our own thing,” said Argentine President Alberto Fernandez.

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