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Mercosur-EU trade deal close: Brazilian FM

Xinhua | Feb 19, 2014

Mercosur-EU trade deal close: Brazilian FM

BRASILIA, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) — Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo said Tuesday that despite recent delays, member countries of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) are close to finalizing a trade deal with the European Union (EU).

At a press conference after meeting here with his British counterpart William Hague, Figueiredo said the two sides "are close" to exchanging proposals for a trade agreement between the Mercosur and the EU.

The exchange of proposals was originally scheduled for last December, but then delayed twice by the EU.

"We are putting the finishing touches to Mercosur’s offer, and the European side also. The last delay in the exchange of offers came from the European side, I am not saying that to place responsibilities, but because the European side includes 28 countries," said Figueiredo.

The Mercosur, a regional trade bloc comprised of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, is finalizing its offer, said Figueiredo, adding that he hoped the EU found itself at the same stage.

However, he acknowledged that the European proposal still has to be submitted to all 28 member countries for approval.

"We do not have an exact date" for the upcoming exchange as the European bloc will "need a little more time, but not too much more, " said Figueiredo.

Hague, meanwhile, said "Britain is a strong advocate of free trade. We are negotiating with the United States towards a Trans- Atlantic trade agreement and also with Canada. We are going to promote progress in negotiations (with the Mercosur) among the nations of the European Union."

Trade talks between the Mercosur and the EU were suspended from 2004 to 2010 due to resistance on both sides to making greater concessions, for the Europeans, in the agricultural field, and for the South Americans, in the industrial sector.

 source: Xinhua