In the face of a shifting international trade landscape and Brazil’s desire to diversify its trade partners, the future of the Southern Common Market, known by the Spanish acronym Mercosur, is in doubt. Mercosur’s utility has been questioned for years: The bloc imposes trade barriers among its own members and restricts their ability to strike free trade agreements with outside partners. It serves primarily as a governing framework for trade between the region’s two largest economies: Brazil and Argentina. While Venezuela, Paraguay and Uruguay have full membership, their roles are peripheral – and Venezuela is currently suspended from the group.
Brazil is undisputedly the dominant force driving Mercosur, but it has grown increasingly dissatisfied with the bloc, which Brasilia believes prevents it from pursuing its foreign relations and trade agenda in full. Blame for Mercosur’s uncertain future has been placed on the bloc’s most recent and most vocal critic