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EU-Mercosur agree to work at faster pace on trade deal, sources say

Reuters | 5 October 2023

EU-Mercosur agree to work at faster pace on trade deal, sources say

BRASILIA, Oct 5 (Reuters) - European Union and Mercosur negotiators met in Brazil on Tuesday and Wednesday to try to reconcile their different positions and complete a trade deal that has been in the works for two decades, three diplomatic sources told Reuters.

The agreement has been on hold since 2019 largely due to European concerns over Amazon deforestation and Mercosur’s slow response to an EU addendum proposing environmental safeguards.

"We are in an intense phase of negotiations where we will try to merge both side’s documents," one diplomat said.

After two days of talks, the negotiators agreed to continue working at a faster pace, a Brazilian official said.

"New rounds are scheduled on a weekly basis, through video conferences and in-person meetings, and then chief negotiators will meet in Brasilia on Oct. 30 to take stock of progress made," a spokesperson for Brazil’s foreign ministry said.

The European Union had waited since March for Mercosur’s response to attach sustainability and climate change commitments to the deal struck in 2019 with the South American bloc formed by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Mercosur eventually presented a one-page counterproposal that was the basis for discussions this week in Brasilia, two European diplomats said, requesting anonymity.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticized the addendum after meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in June, but both leaders said they hoped the accord could be wrapped up by the end of the year.

 source: Reuters