MercoPress, Thursday, 23 February 2006
Mandelson calls for a new EU/Mercosur round of talks
The European Union Trade Commissar Peter Mandelson said he was disappointed with the EU and Mercosur’s incapacity to reach a free trade agreement but nevertheless extended an invitation for another round of talks.
“It’s true that negotiations have cooled from their boiling point, but they still remain tepid in spite of having been suspended 18 months ago”, said Mr. Mandelson.
The free trade negotiations were frozen in 2004 following Mercosur’s claims that the EU agro-industrial proposal was “unacceptable”.
At the time the United States interpreted the ongoing EU/Mercosur as an attempt by the EU to advance in South America and weaken the Washington sponsored Free Trade of the Americas Association, FTAA.
However Mercosur was responsible for the failure in re-launching FTAA negotiations during the presidential summit of the Americas hosted by Argentina in Mar del Plata last November.
Mr. Mandelson said that in spite of the absence of a bilateral dialogue on free trade, both sides have kept a permanent ministerial contact.
“I’m optimistic about those contacts, which also address trade issues, and could lead to a reactivation of the free trade talks between EU and Mercosur”.
In 2004 the EU membership jumped to 25 with the inclusion of ten new countries. In the meantime Mercosur is in the process of incorporating Venezuela, which is one of the main opponents to globalization and free trade agreements.
EU and Mercosur originally signed a cooperation and trade framework agreement in December 1995, in Madrid which was supposed to become effective 1999. The treaty includes three main areas, political dialogue, co-operation and trade issues.