CARACAS, July 29 (Xinhua) -- The leaders of the member states of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) agreed Tuesday to promote regional integration and economic development.
At the plenary session of the 46th Mercosur summit, Nicolas Maduro, president of Venezuela -- currently holding the bloc's rotating presidency -- said participants have adopted several key documents for the future development of Mercosur.
Starting next semester, the member states decided to fully activate the Bank of the South, an initiative of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Uruguay and Venezuela, to promote the integration of Latin American countries.
Some countries have approved the initial capital contribution to form the bank and Venezuela will contribute 80 million U.S. dollars.
Another agreement concerned the creation of a complementary economic zone between the member states of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, the Caribbean Community, Mercosur and energy alliance Petrocaribe.
The economic zone, which will comprise 24 countries in South America, the Caribbean and Central America, is a plan to share investments, experiences and actions that promote development in the region, according to Maduro.
Proposals under the plan include an increase in trade between the member countries, the promotion of productive investment to strengthen key aspects of industrial, agricultural and scientific development, as well as new monetary exchanges methods using local currencies and other systems such as the regional SUCRE currency.
Maduro also highlighted the bloc's support for Argentina in fighting vulture funds that try to economically cripple the country.
Meanwhile, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez called for "smart integration" and cited China as an example.
"The key behind China's economic success is that it strikes a balance between its development and the welfare of its citizens. That's an example to follow and we have a historic opportunity to work together in the wake of the recent visit by (Chinese) President Xi Jinping to the region," she said.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said the summit marked a new phase in the history of the bloc.
"More than just a bloc of integration, Mercosur is a strategic initiative for our region. It is a commitment of our countries to development, which should bring our people prosperity," Rousseff said.
Mercosur is a democratic space full of ideas, models and different world views, she added.
Uruguayan President Jose Mujica said Latin America has never been as independent as now and the governments should respond to the interests of their peoples.
"We need to come together to develop and settle the enormous social debt that we suffer even today in our continent," he said.
Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes said he was pleased by the return of his country to Mercosur after almost two years and his presence in Caracas showed the clear intention of his government to strengthen regional integration.
Cartes also said the challenge facing the organization is to become a large and dynamic economic zone that cares for the welfare of the people, reduces social inequalities and achieves common development of each member nation.
Finally, Bolivian President Evo Morales thanked Mercosur countries for accepting Bolivia as a full member.
Argentina received from Venezuela the rotating presidency of the bloc for the next semester.