CARACAS: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says joining the South American trade bloc Mercosur will be a boon for his country and should help Venezuelan businesses boost international sales.
Chavez urged business leaders to support the initiative as he left for Brazil on Monday for a meeting where Venezuela will formally join the trade bloc.
Some business leaders and farmers, however, say they're concerned that the four-year period during which Venezuela should eliminate tariffs on products from Mercosur members will be too short, and that cheaper imports from countries such as Brazil and Argentina could hurt Venezuelan businesses.
It's the first international trip that Chavez has made as president in months following an operation in Cuba in February that removed a tumor. Chavez said recently that he is now cancer-free.