EU’s Trade Negotiators with Mercosur Stuck in a Latin Limbo
Frustrations have emerged among leaders of South American trade bloc Mercosur over a long-delayed trade deal with the EU, which Brussels officials had said were nearing a conclusion.
Mercosur is now seeking trade agreements with Asian and other non-EU countries as a Eurozone deal looks to have stalled over how far the markets for industrial goods and farm products – such as Latin American beef and EU cars – should be opened up by both sides.
Uruguay’s President Tabare Vazquez, who is head of Mercosur, said his country along with fellow members Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, had become frustrated with the delays.
“We are not prepared to waste time in eternal negotiations,” he said. “Nor are we prepared to sign a watered-down version.”
The most recent talks between Mercosur and the EU made little or no progress with both sides appearing to blame each other for holding up an agreement. Mercosur countries issued a joint statement afterwards saying there needed to be “political support from both parties” to reach a deal.
Brazilian President Michel Temer told journalists: “We should not abandon the idea of this alliance. Closing the doors now would impede negotiations which recently have had reasonable success.”
Concerned European farmers had written to the European Commission urging it not to make concessions on the agricultural chapters in negotiations with Mercosur, fearing it would expose them to unfair competition.
With no EU deal in prospect, Mercosur is looking around the world for trade partners with Vazquez pushing for a deal with China – its main trade partner – and Temer keen on opening talks with the Pacific Alliance countries of Chile, Mexico, Peru and Colombia.
It has also started discussions about a trade deal with Canada and South Korea and is targeting India and Singapore.
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