South Americans discuss regional integration

Representatives from Argentina’s provinces and municipalities met in Buenos Aires recently to compare their experiences in foreign relations with their counterparts from Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The seminar also examined the possibilities and advantages of expanding the countries’ regional economic integration and co-operation. The Forum provided two experts for the seminar.

The main purpose of the seminar was to discuss the structure, agenda and perspectives of the Consultative Forum of Municipalities, States, Provinces and Departments of Mercosur.

Mercosur is a regional trade agreement that links 10 South American countries, the founding partners being Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The event, organized by the Argentine Council on Foreign Relations (CARI) and the Brazilian Centre for International Relations (CEBRI), will serve as a starting point for further discussions between the governments of Mercosur, their subnational units (states and provinces), and civil society.

National coordinators of the Consultative Forum from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay took part in the discussions, along with government representatives from the Argentine federal government and the provinces, mayors of Argentine municipalities, academics and other practitioners.

The seminar was coordinated by Ambassador Eduardo Iglesias, coordinator of the Committee of Provinces of CARI. About 80 people participated in the seminar, including Adalberto Rodriguez Giavarini, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina and President of CARI; Ambassador Jose Botafogo Goncalves, President of CEBRI; and Raquel Kismer de Olmos, Secretary for Municipal Affairs of the Argentine Ministry of the Interior.

Diana Chebenova, the Forum’s Program Director for South America, and Mr. Julio Fernandez Mato, Representative of the Committee of Regions of the European Union and Secretary of International Relations of Galicia, Spain attended on behalf of the Forum. Other international experts included Jose Tudela of the Gimenez Abad Foundation of Spain, and Roger Ménard, director of des analyses politiques et économiques, au Ministère des Relations internationales du Québec.

The seminar took place in Buenos Aires on Nov. 19 –20, 2008.

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