South America Eyeing Common Currencies

Encouraged by the European Union's plan to achieve monetary union by the year 2002, South America's leading trade blocs may do likewise early next century. The chief proponent of monetary union is Argentine President Carlos Menem. Felipe Frydman, economic attach at the Argentine Embassy in Washington, says a single currency for the $1 trillion Mercosur alliance countries eventually "would facilitate trade and investment as well as confidence in the economy, because no one country could change the value of the currency by itself." Meanwhile, Colombia's Assn. of Banks and Financial Institutions proposes a single currency be created within the Andean Community. If Mercosur adopts a common currency and the five Andean nations do likewise, it would leave Guyana and Suriname as the only South American countries outside a common-currency arrangement.

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