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Mercosur still hoping to finalise free-trade deal with European Union

Buenos Aires Times | 25 January 2024

Mercosur still hoping to finalise free-trade deal with European Union

Mercosur will try to finalise the delayed trade agreement with the European Union as soon as possible, the bloc’s foreign ministers said in a joint statement after meeting in Asunción on Wednesday.

“It will be a priority to conclude the pending aspects of the negotiations with the European Union and sign a balanced agreement for both parties at the earliest opportunity,” said the foreign ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia.

“When contemplating the interests of each of the countries in Mercosur and the bloc as a whole, and we reach a balanced agreement, we can move forward”, asserted the host foreign minister, Rubén Ramírez, at a press conference.

Paraguay is now holding the pro-tempore rotating presidency of the bloc founded in 1991.

In 2019, after 20 years of complex negotiations, the two blocs announced they had reached a free-trade agreement. Yet the pact – supported by the German industrial sector and resisted by French farmers – is still pending, amid the discrepancies currently centred on the protection of the Amazon.

The tone has changed favourably after the return to power of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil, who promised to fight deforestation, though new conditions presented by the EU on environmental matters have caused tension among the members of the southern bloc.

 source: Buenos Aires Times