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Mercosur proposal to present the EU expected to be ready by end of April

MercoPress, Uruguay

Mercosur proposal to present the EU expected to be ready by end of April

16 April 2014

Argentine cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich confirmed on Tuesday ’significant advances’ in the elaboration of Mercosur’s joint proposal to exchange with the European Union for discussions on a much delayed wide ranging cooperation and trade agreement.

Meanwhile from Brazil it was reported that a technical meeting to address the issue is scheduled to take place 29 April in Montevideo.

However Capitanich pointed out that any regional agreement with the EU block will be done “defending Argentine industry, production and commerce”.

During his daily press conference Capitanich referred to the meeting of Mercosur partners (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), held last week in Montevideo and underlined the role played by Brazil since “its participation in the joint proposal exceeds 70%”.

Venezuela, Mercosur fifth full member is absent from the talks since it still has to adapt to the group’s rules and regulations.

A spokesperson for the Brazilian ministry of Development, industry and foreign trade anticipated last week that Mercosur would be finalizing by the end of the month the joint proposal to be presented to the European Union, since “we can reach 90% of the commercial universe”.

He added that one of the factors that has allowed the group to advance after successive delays and impediments has been a “change of attitude” from Argentina, which has been far more flexible than previously, although he did not go into details.

However he did confirm a meeting of technical experts on Tuesday 29 April to he held in Montevideo.

Mercosur and the EU have been discussing an ambitious trade and cooperation agreement since 1999, which was stalled for several years several times until it was finally agreed to retake talks in 2010, when Spain occupied the EU presidency.

Since then there have been other interruptions but talks have advanced albeit sometimes at snail pace, particularly regarding the exchange of (tariff reduction) proposals. Mainly because Mercosur requests greater market access for agriculture while the EU demands something similar but in manufacturing and services.

The farming lobby in the EU is very strong and so is Argentine resistance to opening its domestic market and potential loss of jobs.