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Mercosur Rejects Argentine Proposal to Raise Import Tariffs

South America’s Mercosur trade bloc rejected an Argentine proposal to raise imports tariffs on all goods to protect local industries, Uruguay’s presidential website said.

Officials at a meeting yesterday in the Argentine province of Mendoza agreed to allow countries to raise tariffs on 200 goods unilaterally, up from the 100 goods agreed in December, Alvaro Ons, general director for Integration and Mercosur of the Uruguayan Foreign Ministry, said on the website.

“What was agreed doesn’t mean a change in the foreign common tariffs,” Ons said, according to the statement. “It will be a decision by each country, depending on its own interest.”

The decision was taken by Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil as Paraguay, which also belongs to the Mercosur bloc, was banned from participating after Congress last week impeached Fernando Lugo as president and replaced him with Vice President Federico Franco.

Presidents from the bloc and from the 12-nation Unasur meet today in Mendoza to discuss the situation in Paraguay. They may suspend the country’s participation in the bloc until it “restores its democratic conditions,” Uruguayan lawmakers Carlos Varela and Ruben Martinez Huelmo yesterday told reporters after participating in the foreign ministers meeting.

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