People’s Daily, Beijing
14 July 2005
EU hopes to reach free trade agreement with Mercosur in 2006
The European Union hopes to reach a free trade agreement with Latin American trade group Mercosur by May 2006, the Brazilian media quoted Wednesday an EU’s official as saying in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
During a meeting with local entrepreneurs, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said a summit between the EU and Mercosur, to be held next May in Vienna, Austria, will provide a good opportunity for the two sides to strike an agreement.
The free trade talks between the two blocs have dragged on for years and "we could wait no more," said the commissioner.
Ferrero-Waldner, on her first trip to Brazil as the EU external relations commissioner, said the EU will hold a ministerial meeting with Mercosur in September and resume the stalled free trade talks.
The EU hopes to sign a free trade agreement before the Doha round talks of the World Trade Organization, said the commissioner.
But some Brazilian diplomats said Brazil wishes to delay the signing of the agreement till the end of the Doha round so as to seek more concessions from the EU on issues regarding agricultural products.
The two sides’ differences on the issue of agricultural product access poses the greatest obstacle to these talks.
The free trade deal would create the world’s largest free trade area with a market of 680 million people, and further boost bilateral trade which stands at 40 billion US dollars a year.
Discussions broke down late last year after Mercosur demanded a larger share of Europe’s sugar, beef and poultry market, and the EU sought access to Mercosur’s services and public procurement markets.
Mercosur is made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.