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  Félix Peña

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por Félix Peña
February 2023


On this occasion, we will present a few references to previous publications in which we have addressed some issues related to the ground rules in a process of economic integration, with special attention to the case of Mercosur.

All of these of course include references to publications by other authors. They may be useful to understand the necessary debates on a future Mercosur that can be credible and effective.

In order to approach a new stage of Mercosur, it may be useful to read bibliographic material that addresses its most relevant topics. Below are references to some publications in which we have addressed issues related to the ground rules within an integration process, with special reference to the case of Mercosur.

As we have pointed out on several occasions, the effectiveness of the ground rules is one of the most relevant issues from the political and economic perspective of international trade relations, including those of the different forms of regional economic integration processes, such as Mercosur and the European Union.

This is an issue addressed in our report entitled "Concertación de intereses, efectividad de las reglas de juego y calidad institucional en el Mercosur" (Concertation of interests, effectiveness of ground rules and institutional quality in Mercosur), Red Mercosur - Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Montevideo 2003.

In it, we pointed out that this may even be a prerequisite for successfully addressing other significant issues currently on Mercosur's agenda, such as joint productive transformation, sectoral asymmetries, macroeconomic coordination and its credibility in the eyes of citizens, companies, investors and third countries.

We stated two main reasons that led us to this assertion. One is the nature of the international relations phenomenon to which Mercosur belongs. As it is a voluntary process of integration between sovereign nations that intend to remain so, the predominance of quality ground rules freely consented in the relations between partners with differing relative power constitutes a guarantee of the preservation of the reciprocity of national interests, which is what enables the associative link to be sustained over time. In any case, it is an alternative to the excessive or exclusive prevalence of factors of power, typical of hegemonic integration processes.

The other reason is the observation that in the development of Mercosur there has been an accrual of rules that are not complied with and that have not always completed the cycle of legal improvement. This fact is significant precisely because of the nature of the process in question. The partners have freely committed themselves to work together on the basis of common rules, which should supposedly be complied with.

We pointed out that, due to the asymmetries of economic dimension and relative power among Mercosur partners -very pronounced in some cases- the effectiveness of the rules is directly related to the efficiency of the integration process, particularly in terms of its capacity to facilitate the attraction of investments to all partners in terms of the enlarged market.

We concluded the mentioned report by pointing out that it was a fact that Mercosur's rules and institutions have revealed serious shortcomings. In particular, they have shown a relative incapacity to encourage progress towards a common market, which is a foundational objective that legitimizes the reciprocal concessions made by the partners on the basis of their national interests.

When everything seems to indicate that we could now be on the eve of a new stage of Mercosur -as would be the case with the eventual entry into force of the bi-regional agreement between Mercosur and the European Union- it becomes even more important to intensify efforts to ensure that it is perceived as a process of growing joint work among its member countries, based on ground rules that are effective (i.e. that penetrate reality), efficient (i.e. that produce the expected results) and that are therefore credible to those who question the convenience of making decisions on productive investment and joint work with other companies.
In addition to the one mentioned above, we have previously addressed the issue of ground rules in integration processes through different publications, such as the following (in

  • "Foreign trade and competitive insertion in the world economy: aspects for the debate on an agenda for Argentine society" in IDEA Annual Colloquium, November 2004;

  • "Interview with Félix Peña", Revista Integración & Comercio - IDB, nr.29, 2009;

  • "Structural cracks in Mercosur: Is it possible to adapt some of its rules to current realities?", in our monthly newsletter, November 2009;

  • "Quality of ground rules in international trade," in Megatrade magazine, no. 223, April 2011;

  • "Institutions and ground rules in the construction of a region; conditions for their effectiveness, efficacy and social legitimacy", in National Academy of Sciences, November 2014.

Lecturas recomendadas:

  • Alconada Mon, Hugo, "La ciudad de las ranas", Novela, Planeta, Buenos Aires 2022.
  • Briceño Ruiz, José; Leal, Jorge; Rocha Valencia, Alberto; Serna Forcheri, Miguel (coordinadores), "La Integración Latinoamericana en Debate. Incertidumbre, formatos institucionales fragmentados y caminos alternativos latentes", Teseo - ALAS - CLACSO, Buenos Aires 2019.
  • Elliott, Lucinda, "Uruguay"s global ambitions shake up Latin America´s Mercosur Trade Blocs", en el diario "Financial Times", Enero 27, 2023.
  • Figueiredo, Janaína, "Trabas. Los desafíos a la gobernabilidad que enfrenta Lula tras el asalto en Brasilia", diario La Nación, Enero 15, 2023 página 4.
  • Gerchunoff, Pablo, "Raúl Alfonsín. El planisferio invertido", Ensayo-Edhasa, Buenos Aires 2022.
  • Hass, Ryan, "Great power competition has shifted in the United States favor", East Asia Forum, January 4, 2023.
  • Macri, Mauricio, "Para Qué. Aprendizaje sobre Liderazgo y Poder Para Ganar el Segundo Tiempo", Planeta, Buenos Aires 2022.
  • Malamud, Carlos, "Brasil, Sur, Mercosur y después…", Real Instituto Elcano, 24 de Enero 2023.
  • Mondino, Diana, "El mundo se reconfigura para enfrentar los efectos de la invasión rusa a Ucrania", Suplemento Comercio Exterior del diario La Nación página 3, Enero 12, 2023
  • Origlia, Graciela, "Cambios. Por qué la Organización Mundial del Comercio está cuestionada", Suplemento Comercio Exterior del diario La Nación, páginas 4 y 5, Enero 19, 2023.
  • Pambagyo, Iman, "RCEP benefits extend beyond economic cooperation", East Asia Forum, January 3, 2023,
  • Ponce, Miguel, entrevista de Graciela Origlia, "Hay incertidumbre e inquietud entre los empresarios", Suplemento Comercio Exterior del diario La Nación, página 7, Enero 12, 2023.
  • Peña, Félix, "Concertación de Intereses, Efectividad de las Reglas de Juego y Calidad Institucional en el Mercosur", Red Mercosur - Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Programa de Apoyo y Asesoría al Foro Consultivo Económico y Social del Mercosur, Montevideo 2003.
  • Peña, Félix, "Como prepararse para una posible puesta en marcha del acuerdo entre el Mercosur y la UE", Suplemento Comercio Exterior del diario La Nación, página 3, Enero 19, 2023.
  • Peña, Félix, "Perspectivas del Acuerdo Mercosur-Unión Europea", en Blog Foro del Sur, 23/01/2023, Fundación Foro del Sur (
  • Peña, Félix, "Perspectives of the Mercosur-European Union Agreement", Blog ForoSur, 23/01/2023 (
  • Qingguo, Jia, PKU, "US-China relations have become a disaster in the making", East Asia Forum, January 26. 2023.
  • Reinsch, William, "An inflection point in the US trade policy", January 22, 2023,
  • Rizal Damuri, Yose, CSIS, "An agenda for regional economic and security cooperation". East Asia Forum, January 12, 2023,
  • Rudkevich, Gennady, Alexandria, "Strained ties with Russia boost prospects for Central Asian integration", East Asia Forum, January 24, 2023,
  • Sing Ahluwalia, Montek, India Planning Commission, "Climate change challenges Asia Pacific security", East Asia Forum, January 7, 2023,
  • Vasquez, Patricia I., "Lithium Production in Chile and Argentine: Inverted Roles", Wilson Center - Latin America Program - Argentine Project - Lythium Triangle Initiative, Washington Dc, January 2023.
  • Wolff, Alan Wm.; Lawrence, Robert Z; Hufbauer, Gary Clyde, ""Have Trade Agreements Been Bad for America?", Peterson Institute for International Economics, PIIE Insider,
  • Yang, Yao, PKU, "Weak domestic demand now threatens China's growth potential", East Asia Forum, January 29, 2023,
  • Zhang. Yuhan, US Berkeley, "The death of US-China climate cooperation", East Asia Forum January 14, 2023,

Félix Peña es Director del Instituto de Comercio Internacional de la Fundación ICBC; Director de la Maestría en Relaciones Comerciales Internacionales de la Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero (UNTREF); Miembro del Comité Ejecutivo del Consejo Argentino para las Relaciones Internacionales (CARI). Miembro del Brains Trust del Evian Group. Ampliar trayectoria. |

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