October 23, 2019 / 4:43 PM / a month ago

Brazil's president sees Mercosur bloc at risk if opposition wins in Argentina

FILE PHOTO: Argentina's President Mauricio Macri and presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez participate in the presidential debate ahead of the October 27 presidential election, at the University of Buenos Aires' Law School, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 20, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo

BRASÍLIA (Reuters) - A possible victory of opposition candidate Alberto Fernández in Argentina’s presidential election on Sunday could put the Mercosur trade bloc at risk, Brazil’s right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, said on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, where he is on an official visit, the Brazilian president said the return of leftist Cristina Kirchner, who is running for vice-president on Fernandez’s ticket, “could endanger the whole of Mercosur.”

Kirchner, who is now a senator, was president of Argentina between 2007 and 2015.

“What we want is that Argentina continues the trade policies of Macri in case the opposition wins,” Bolsonaro said, referring to Argentine President Mauricio Macri. “If not, we may get together with Paraguay and Uruguay to make a decision.”

He did not specify what that decision would be, but mentioned the temporary suspension of Paraguay from the bloc in 2012 as an example of the kind of action that has been taken in the past.

The Mercosur trade bloc was established in 1991 and now groups Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay as full members. Venezuela was a full member but was expelled in 2016.

Conservative Macri lost serious ground in the Aug. 11 primary election to Fernandez, who is now widely expected to win the election.

The stunning results of the primary - a nearly 16-percentage point victory by Fernandez - sparked a market sell-off and eventually led the government to introduce currency controls in order to stop a slide in the peso currency.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia; Writing Ana Mano; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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