South American trade bloc looks left, hits bumps in the road
BRASILIA, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Leaders of South America's Mercosur trade bloc gathered on Friday to consider adding two left-leaning governments to its ranks, but the meeting was overshadowed by growing protectionism and an undeclared trade war between Brazil and Argentina that threatens to rip the group apart.
Brazil's exports to Argentina have dropped by a fifth this year, causing friction between Mercosur's two biggest members. Combined with internal struggles, the rift is cited by some analysts as evidence of a broader, worrying move away from trade integration by some emerging markets.
Even as it espouses regional trade, the bloc's members in recent years have grown increasingly protectionist, and Mercosur has recently begun admitting members whose leaders are outspoken critics of free trade.