Mercosur facilitates return of nationals to countries of origin
The decision was unveiled after a video conference with heads of state
Published in 20/03/2020 - 13:59 By Luciano Nascimento - Brasília
As the pandemic of the new coronavirus advances in the region, Mercosur decided to take measures to facilitate the return of nationals of member nations to their countries of origin and also ensure the circulation of goods and services across borders. The move was unveiled after a video conference with heads of state and representatives from the governments of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, which currently holds the bloc’s pro tempore presidency.
“The pandemic caused by the COVID-19 respects no frontiers and requires efficient and permanent regional coordination with good practices founded on scientific evidence as well as guidelines issued by relevant organizations,” the bloc’s joint statement reads.
In the last few days, in order to curb the spread of the virus, all group members announced measures to partly or totally close their territories. The joint statement says it will be the job of foreign ministries and the agencies tasked with immigration and transport in each country to spearhead the efforts to facilitate the return of citizens.
To make operations easier, the countries agreed to have a periodic exchange of lists with people who wish to return. “In countries with national air carriers in operation, governments will administrate return operations, according to what they can do,” the document states.
The document further says that the members of Mercosur must take measures to identify and remove obstacles hindering the traffic of goods and services, as well as to devise plans to speed up the transport of supplies and essential goods, including articles related to food, hygiene, and health care.
Among the measures that may be taken are cuts in tariffs on products and supplies designed for the prevention of diseases in the context of the COVID-19 emergency.
During the meeting, the officials also decided that member countries must be notified whenever one of the nations is to adopt measures concerning its borders. The document says that countries should take into account the special needs of border communities when drafting strategies.
The nations expressed their interest in urging multilateral credit organizations—especially regional banks Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), and the Financial Fund for the Development of the River Plate Basin (Fonplata)—to help tackle the new coronavirus and its aftermath in the region.
Translation: Fabrício Ferreira - Edition: Lílian Beraldo
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