Uruguay, China forge comprehensive strategic partnership

24 November 20232 min reading

China and Uruguay elevate bilateral relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership, expressing commitment to pursuing a bilateral free trade agreement and exploring an FTA with the Mercosur trade bloc, marking a significant diplomatic development with potential implications for trade dynamics in the region.

In a significant diplomatic move, China and Uruguay jointly announced the elevation of their bilateral relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership. In a joint statement, Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou and Chinese Premier Li Qiang expressed their commitment to advancing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) and exploring an FTA between China and the Mercosur trade bloc. China and Uruguay also agreed to promote Belt and Road cooperation, and strengthen the industrial chains between the two countries to promote trade and services supply. This strategic upgrade emphasizes the commitment of both nations to expand and deepen their cooperation across various fronts.

Uruguay, aligning with its Mercosur counterparts Brazil and Argentina, expressed its interest in pursuing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with China. Uruguay's pursuit of FTAs reflects its desire to secure favorable trade conditions, with a focus on addressing tariff challenges for its key export, beef, to China, where it currently faces higher tariffs compared to competitors like Australia and New Zealand.


The historical backdrop reveals a slowing of regional integration within Mercosur, marked by trade disputes and strained relations, notably following economic crises in Brazil and Argentina. Uruguay's pursuit of an FTA with China and efforts to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership have sparked internal disagreements within Mercosur, with Brazil supportive and Argentina expressing concerns about potential economic repercussions for the bloc.

Beijing's keen interest in an FTA with Mercosur is viewed as a strategic move which could exert pressure on Paraguay, the only South American nation maintaining ties with Taipei, a territory that China claims as its own.

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