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Brazil sees EU-Mercosur talks moving later in 2008

The Guardian, UK

Brazil sees EU-Mercosur talks moving later in 2008

3 April 2008

BRASILIA, April 3 (Reuters) - Long-stalled talks on a trade agreement between the European Union and South America’s Mercosur bloc should make progress in the second half of this year, Brazil’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

"In one scenario or another, we will be able to advance with the European Union more quickly in the second semester," Celso Amorim told reporters.

By the second half of the year, it would be clear either if the Doha round of global trade negotiations failed or what the main points of an accord would be, Amorim said.

The EU-Mercosur talks, which started in 1999, have taken a back seat to the drawn-out negotiations of the so-called Doha Round, which appear to be reaching a definitive stage.

EU and Mercosur officials were meeting in Brussels this week to assess the state of play.

The talks have been bedeviled by some of the same issues as those holding up the global Doha round negotiations — the removal of European farm subsidies and greater access for European industrial goods to South American markets.

Brazilian industry leaders have called on the government not to rely exclusively on the Doha Round but to also pursue bilateral talks more aggressively.

Mercosur groups Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. Venezuela is awaiting final approval to join. (Reporting by Raymond Colitt; Editing by Xavier Briand)