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Buenos Aires Times | 9 January 2024
Scholz, Milei in favour of a swift conclusion to EU-Mercosur deal
Negotiations over the long-trailed EU-Mercosur trade deal "must be concluded quickly," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Argentine President Javier Milei agreed during a telephone conversation on Tuesday.
Scholz, 65, and Milei, 53, shared a telephone conversation to discuss " bilateral and multilateral issues and the trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union," the German government revealed in a statement.
"They agreed that negotiations on the free trade agreement should be concluded quickly," said Berlin in its statement.
Agreed in 2019 after 20 years of stop-start negotiations, the free-trade agreement between Mercosur trade bloc – consisting of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay – and the European Union has still not yet been ratified.
Disagreements are focused on European concerns about Brazil’s environmental policy under former president Jair Bolsonaro, rules on agricultural imports and exports and ideological differences.
Last month, Mercosur leaders said in statement issued after a meeting of heads of state in Rio de Janeiro they wanted to “rapidly” conclude the trade deal
Summit host, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, said he wanted to conclude the agreement before his country handed over the rotating presidency of the bloc to Paraguay. However, persistent stumbling blocks again stalled the deal.
The tone has changed favourably following the return to power of Lula, who has promised to combat deforestation which ran rampant under Bolsonaro. But new conditions put forward by the EU to address environmental issues have created further tensions.
Within the EU, Germany is one of the strongest supporters of the free-trade deal, which is considered essential for its powerful industrial sector. France, led by President Emmanuel Macron, is thought to be less keen.