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Brazilian minister: no Mercosur-EU FTA before Oct. 31

Brazilian minister: no Mercosur-EU FTA before Oct. 31

28 September 2004

RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 27 (Xinhuanet) — Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said Monday that differences over agriculture and other issues had made it impossible for negotiations to be completed over a free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) by Oct. 31, the original target date.

It seemed that the two blocs were unable to finish their FTA talks on schedule, due to differences on agricultural imports and the EU’s drive for greater access into the Mercosur for its financial services and telecommunications, Amorim said during a seminar in honor of former Brazilian foreign minister San Thiago Dantas.

Amorim noted that Mercosur has presented to EU a new proposal, which addresses the issues of financial services and telecommunications, and gives preference to the Europeans in governmental procurement business.

The Mercosur offer represents "an important advance" in the negotiating process which started four years ago, and it is necessary to wait for the Europeans to present theirs, the minister added.

Mercosur, which consists of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, with Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Venezuela as associate members, wants its agricultural goods to gain better access to theEuropean market with an increase in quotas that the EU has proposed.

The EU hopes to get a better proposal from Mercosur in the investment sector, government acquisitions, telecommunications, marine shipping and banking.