May 7, 2000
Brazil's president says Latin American heading for single currency

                  RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- Brazil's president said Sunday that Mercosur --
                  South America's largest trade bloc -- is heading toward the adoption of a
                  euro-style single currency.

                  Fernando Henrique Cardoso made his remarks in a speech during the formal
                  opening of Mercosur Economic Summit, an annual event sponsored by the
                  World Economic Forum.

                  He said Mercosur was advancing toward "macroeconomic convergence ...
                  (leading) to a monetary union, which we would like to see implemented in the
                  medium term."

                  Created in 1991, Mercosur is a customs union comprising Argentina, Brazil,
                  Paraguay and Uruguay as full members and Bolivia and Chile as associates.
                  Today, it represents a market with a combined gross domestic product of more
                  than $1 trillion and a consumer market made up of the region's 200 million

                  Nearly 100 business and political leaders converged on this city to attend the
                  summit which will focus on Latin America's economic integration and
                  competitiveness on the world market.

                  Cardoso told those assembled that before a single currency could become reality,
                  the countries of the region would need to enact fiscal policies "that guarantee the
                  solvency of our accounts and monetary policies that guarantee price stability."

                  Mercosur and other regional blocs like the Andean Community were stepping
                  stones for the eventual formation of the U.S.-sponsored Free Trade Area of the
                  Americas, Cardoso said.

                  He also said Mercosur would continue negotiating with the European Union for
                  the creation of a trans-Atlantic free trade zone.

                  The summit will also focus on the region's competitiveness and ways to
                  strengthen it through greater investment in education, infrastructure and

                  Other topics on the agenda include the environment, business-to-business
                  commerce via the Internet and biotechnology.

                  Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.