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EU envoy attempts to re-launch trade talks with Mercosur

MercoPress | May 27, 2007

EU envoy attempts to re-launch trade talks with Mercosur

A top European Union trade negotiator begins this week an official visit to the four Mercosur country members in an attempt to re-launch the stalled talks with the South American block for an association agreement.

Karl Falkenberg arrives in Buenos Aires Monday, from Brazil, and will be meeting Argentina’s top Foreign Affairs and Economy ministries’ officials.

Bilateral Mercosur/EU talks are to a great extent conditioned to the evolution of multilateral negotiations in the framework of the World Trade Organization Doha Round.

Falkenberg’s agenda includes meetings with Economy minister Felisa Miceli, Deputy Foreign Affairs minister Roberto García Moritán, Director of International Economic Relations Alfredo Chiaradia and with Industry Secretary Miguel Peirano.

EU/Mercosur association talks have been stalled for over two years since Brussels decided to wait for the results of the Doha Round multilateral negotiations which are focused on one of the South American block’s main interest and that are farm subsidies in rich countries and access to those markets.

However WTO talks have also been grounded for over a year because of the reticence of developed countries to comply with the demand from the so called G-20 to be more flexible regarding the agriculture controversy.
Rich countries are also demanding improved access to the developing countries industrial and services markets.

Nevertheless EU and Mercosur had begun to sort out some of the impediments with the establishment of preferential quotas for agriculture but the South American block described them as insufficient.

Recently several EU top trade officials said in was possible to advance with the bilateral negotiations in parallel with the WTO discussions.

However, the prevailing opinion in Mercosur is to wait for the Doha Round outcome, speculating that in the event of a failure or an extension of Doha, this will help reactivate the future bilateral understanding.

Brussels apparently does not fully discard the second option, since originally the idea was that Trade Commissar Peter Mandelson visit Mercosur members and not his subordinate.

Falkenberg is also expected to sound out Mercosur members about demanding further concessions from United States because it’s the country which has been least flexible in the global trade talks.

 source: MercoPress