Piracy S / A


By Nelson Vasconcelos, O Globo - 02/09/2004


If it is already difficult to discuss solutions for piracy only in Brazil (as if that were not enough), imagine the discussion in the scope of Mercosur, with representatives from the four countries of the bloc. Diplomats and Salamaleks aside, what remains is basically the uncomfortable certainty that there is still much to be done, not only against piracy, but mainly for Mercosur's own health.

Tuesday, the Mercosur Joint Parliamentary Commission? Argentine Section organized in Buenos Aires the First Day on the Problem of Smuggling and the Mercosur Tax Policy. Experts from various sectors in the countries presented their analyzes, and some made suggestions. The atmosphere, as usual, was cordial, but a phrase from Javier de Haedo, a former undersecretary of the Uruguayan Ministry of Economy, called attention:

? Is the high volume of smuggling within Mercosur the most evident proof that there is no integration into Mercosur? he said, or rather, opened up what diplomacy tends to diminish. Words…

Everyone agreed that the tax issue is the biggest obstacle for the bloc. A major obstacle precisely because the high load is a tremendous incentive to? Alternative routes? production of goods. And not because of the intrinsic evil of the people, but simply for the sake of survival in a globalized market that increasingly demands greater productive capacity from less developed countries, as recalled by Argentine Alberto Abad, federal collection administrator.

Consider also that each country made historical mistakes, creating absurd taxes to plug critical holes, emergency solutions that crystallize, and that is the tremendous dependence on the governments. And tolerance on the part of the citizen, especially the unemployed and the low income. Dish made for pirate action, anywhere in the world, and especially where citizenship is not held in high regard. Everything contributes to making piracy socially acceptable. Hence, it is downhill.

In the consensus, it was clear that the region's economies will not be able to fight together against piracy because they lack what has been repeatedly called? Tax harmonization? between countries. This asymmetry is the first and? certainly - the most complex problem to be solved.

Cut taxes, then, no way. Unifying customs tariffs, difficult, almost impossible. How can we avoid, for example, that subsidies from the Brazilian government to the sugar and alcohol sector do not harm 150 paragual families who live from the exploitation of sugarcane? One executive commented:

? Do you know what the Brazilian government responds when Paraguay complains about the smuggling of Brazilian sugar into Paraguay? They say it is a problem of poor border surveillance…

It is still curious, because the Brazilian government is always complaining about Paraguay, but it never assumes that smuggling is also vacillating in border control.

In this endless fight, how is it possible, then, to think of a joint plan to combat piracy within the four countries? Won't isolated actions do anything? neither in relation to piracy, nor in relation to any matter related to Mercosur. Either local governments take joint, energetic and immediate action, or everyone will lose out.

It could not be otherwise: when it comes to piracy in Mercosur, Paraguay deserved the attention of the participants in the day in Buenos Aires. In my corner, I expected the weather to warm up, but diplomacy always speaks loudly at meetings of this type, and so Paraguayan representatives did not have to explain themselves. On the contrary, they guaranteed that their country is firmly determined to solve the problem. But let's leave Paraguay for next week's column.