The South American Common Market, known as Mercosur, is in the process of expanding its membership to include Venezuela. In an e-mail interview, Joao Augusto de Castro Neves, founding partner of CAC Political Consultancy and Ph.D. student at University of Sao Paulo, and Carlos Pereira, visiting fellow in the Brookings Institution Latin America Initiative and professor of political economy at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, discussed Mercosur expansion.
WPR: What is the current Mercosur membership, and what are the group's internal trade dynamics?
Joao Augusto de Castro Neves and Carlos Pereira: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay are full members of Mercosur, South America's main economic bloc, which was established in 1991. In 2006, negotiations began to include Venezuela as a full member of the customs union. As of January 2011, Venezuela's accession is pending on a vote by the Paraguayan Congress -- likely to happen in the coming weeks. Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador are associate members of Mercosur but are not part of the customs union.