Agreement between MERCOSUR and EU becomes a priority

Valor Econômico | 31/07/2009

Agreement between MERCOSUR and EU becomes a priority

By Sergio Leo
Freely translated by Amanda Mey

Foreign relations: Brazil does not see any advance in the retake of Doha and
wants to bring negotiations to an end with the European group in 2010.

The negotiation of a free trade agreement between MERCOSUR and the UE
became, for Brazil, a greater priority than the commercial liberalization
debates of the World Trade Organization (WTO), as announced by the Minister
Foreign Affairs, Celso Amorim

Discreetly, with secrecy requests from Europeans, as to not raise any
expectations, the UE and MERCOSUR will have a reserved meeting in the first
week of November to evaluate how to resume discussions interrupted last year
in July.

“We do not see any clear sign that the main actors are engaged in the Doha
Round,” commented Amorim, as he received the Spanish Foreign Relations
minister, Miguel-Ángel Moratinos, mentioning the WTO liberalization round,
initiated in Doha, capital of Qatar. “We have to concentrate our efforts in
the agreement between MERCOSUR-EU,” he declared, regretting the lack of
advances in the WTO, in this moment of crisis, where measures to avoid the
increase in protectionism. “These uncertainties in relation to the round
oblige us to seek this agreement.”

Moratinos agreed and announced the Spanish disposition to encourage
negotiation for an agreement still in the temporary Spanish presidency in
the European Union, in the first semester of 2010. Europeans and members of
the MERCOSUR have already been discussing the topic since June, when they
arranged a private meeting in Lisbon and scheduled the next one for
November, when the new European Commission takes its position.
Europeans argue in order to resume the negotiations it has to be clear that
the agreement can be settled in a “range of opportunity” of six to eight

“There is political will from Brazil and Spain”, commented Moratinos,
remembering that Argentina, which will preside the MERCOSUR in 2010, will
also be committed in settling the agreement in a short period of time. The
Brazilian government believes that an agreement will only be possible if the
Europeans chance their strategy, and stop demanding a high level of
concessions in reduction of barriers for the commercialization of
industrialized goods. MERCOSUR has already accepted limiting the quotas for
meat and dairy products in the European markets’ request of the opening of
their agriculture market.

Amorim said an agreement will be made possible if there is pragmatism in the
actions of the negotiators, as the Europeans demonstrated in settling an
agreement with the Andean countries, with whom they negotiated flexibilities
according to each country. “If there is the need for more flexibility for a
country in a specific moment, if it helps in the conception of the
agreement, it would be something important”, said Amorim, already indicating
that members of the MERCOSUR want to participate in the agreement with fewer
concessions than Brazil.

According to Amorim, there is a number of facts that can facilitate a deal,
in the negotiations which were paralyzed since last year: The greater
disposition of the UE in settling agreements with special clauses for some
countries, the world crisis, and deferral of the conclusion of Doha.

Brazilians fear, however, that the European Union returns to negotiations
demanding more ambitious decisions regarding intellectual property and
investment protection rules, following the failed model attempted in the
Free Trade Area of the Americas. The fact that the negotiators agree in
restricting the discussions the themes regarding access to products in the
respective markets is a positive factor, points out Amorim.

Moratinos affirmed that he is very optimistic in attaining an agreement
whose parameters will be established after the European summer, still this
semester. But indicated that the Europeans want to remove the emphasis on
the purchase and sale of merchandise, and establish new parameters of
negotiation. The agreements of the XXI century may not concentrate on the
“exportation or importation of meat and agricultural products,” but in the
cooperation as a stimulus for investments and special funds destined to
increase development.

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