Dominican foreign minister pushing for closer ties between Mercosur, SICA

Dominican foreign minister pushing for closer ties between Mercosur, SICA 

Dominican Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas, shake hands with Brazil’s Deputy Foreign Minister Marcos Galvão at the Itamaraty Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, on May 14, 2018. EPA-EFE/Joedson Alves

Brasilia, May 14 (efe-epa).- Dominican Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas on Monday met with Brazilian government authorities to discuss alternatives for closer ties between Mercosur and the Central American Integration System (SICA).

Vargas, who arrived in Brasilia on a tour that will continue in Uruguay, was welcomed by Deputy Foreign Minister Marcos Galvão, since Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes is current on an official visit to China.

According to government officials, Vargas and Galvão reviewed various initiatives to strengthen political and commercial ties between the Mercosur trade bloc – comprised of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – and SICA, made up of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, the latter of whom currently presides over the entity.

The pair also examined the bilateral agenda, placing special emphasis on trade that is openly favorable to Brazil, a country where the Dominican Republic is seeking greater market penetration for its products.

In 2017, bilateral trade between the two nations totaled $604 million, but Dominican exports barely amounted to $14 million, which Santo Domingo authorities attributed in part to high Brazilian tariffs.

With an eye toward trying to better balance that trade, the Dominican Republic is analyzing potentially joining the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), which would allow it greater access to the Brazilian market.

On his visit, Vargas also signed accords on political consultation, as well as in the air services, tourism and investment sectors.

To strengthen investment, Vargas is scheduled to meet with Brazilian businessmen, with whom he will promote investment opportunities in the Dominican Republic in tourism, but also in the service sector, telecommunications and mining.

During his stay in Brazil, the Dominican official will also ceremonially lay the cornerstone for his country’s future embassy in the Brazilian capital.

On Tuesday, Vargas will travel to Uruguay, where on Wednesday he will meet with President Tabare Vazquez and Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa.

In Montevideo, he is also scheduled to meet with Uruguayan businessmen, whom he will urge to invest in the Dominican Republic.