Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)


The Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) is a trade agreement, a negotiating bloc, and a customs union. The mission of MERCOSUR is to increase the efficiency and competitiveness of the five participating economies by opening markets and accelerating economic development, making better use of resources and ensuring conservation of the environment, improving communications, and coordinating macroeconomic policies.

Members of MERCOSUR include Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Associate members include Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Mexico is an observer.


The Council of the Common Market is the superior body of MERCOSUR. It is responsible for the formulation and the implementation of actions by MERCOSUR. The Council meets whenever it is necessary but at least once a year. A president leads the Council and the alphabetical order of member countries determines the holder of the presidency every six months.

The Common Market Group oversees and carries out the decisions of the Council and proposes actions to pursue policy.

The MERCOSUR Trade Commission is a more technical body. It assists the Group and covers the implementation of common trade policy mechanisms within MERCOSUR and third countries.

There is also a working group on the environment. The working group has discussed issues such as environment and competitiveness, non-tariff barriers to trade, and common systems of environmental information.


There is no history of MERCOSUR in the discourse on fisheries subsidy reform. However, MERCOSUR has some internal policy cohesion and a history of pursuing disciplines against trading partners who subsidize sectors important to MERCOSUR countries. For example, agricultural subsidies are a critical  issue in the current trade negotiations between MERCOSUR and the European Union (EU).

Most of the MERCOSUR members and other affiliated countries have experience with the fisheries subsidies issue and were supportive of reforms in the related WTO negotiations. Furthermore, trade in fish has been an issue within the negotiating dialogue between MERCOSUR and the EU.15

What could MERCOSUR produce/do on fisheries subsidies?

It is difficult to assess what might be appropriate for the organization to pursue because of its limited past involvement in fisheries issues. However, MERCOSUR could potentially exact an external tariff to restrict imports whose prices are influenced by subsidies, particularly imports from countries that institute harmful fisheries subsidies programs. MERCOSUR could also institute its own subsidy reforms through member commitments.


MERCOSUR Secretariat
1992 Piso 1 - Edificio MERCOSUR
C.P. 11.200
Republica Oriental Del Uruguay

Tel: +598 2412 9024
Fax: +598 2410 0958/2418 0557

Email: [email protected]

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