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10/12/2016

South American presidents ‘confident’ of EU trade deal

Trade & Society

South American presidents ‘confident’ of EU trade deal

Mauricio Macri and Dilma Rousseff

[TodoNoticias/Twitter]

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her Argentinian counterpart, Mauricio Macri, have expressed confidence that the EU is committed to brokering a trade agreement with Mercosur. EurActiv’s partner EFE reports.

Mercosur completed its proposal in July 2014 and both South American presidents, who met in Brasilia on Friday (4 December), are now confident that “the EU will submit its proposal as soon as possible”.

>>Read: Malmström: TTIP could follow Vietnam model

The statement, released by the Brazilian President’s office, said that once the exchange of proposals is completed, “a new and definitive phase” can start. Negotiations are “a priority” for Argentina and Brazil, as well as their “partners in Mercosur”. These countries include Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela, the latter of which is not participating in talks with the EU.

In a joint press conference with Rousseff, Macri reiterated his wish that both Mercosur and EU “put their offers on the table at the same time” and as soon as possible.

>>Read: Paraguay hosts Mercosur preparatory meeting ahead of EU talks

Both acknowledged that the most delicate and sensitive part of the negotiations, which have been ongoing for a number of years, will be “agricultural integration”.

Although both blocs had previously agreed to submit their proposals before the end of the year, the teams responsible have not set a firm date for when this will happen.

On 29 November, Spain’s Secretary of State for Trade, Jaime García-Legaz, said at a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels that there is “vast majority” support in the bloc for the deal, although France is opposed due to perceived “lack of ambition” on the part of Mercosur.

Background

Mercosur is a sub-regional bloc. Its full members are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The EU is Mercosur's first trading partner, accounting for 20% of Mercosur's total trade in 2013. EU-Mercosur trade in that year was €110 billion.
Mercosur is the 6th most important export market for the EU (2013 data). EU's exports to the region have steadily increased over the last years, going up from € 28 billion in 2007 to €57 billion in 2013.

Mercosur's biggest exports to the EU are made of agricultural products (43% of total exports) and raw materials (28%), while the EU mostly exports manufactured products to Mercosur and notably machinery and transport equipment (46% of total exports) and chemicals (22% of total exports).

The EU is also a major exporter of commercial services to Mercosur (€18.5 billion in 2012), as well as the biggest foreign investor in the region, with a stock of foreign direct investment that has steadily increased over the past years and which amounted to €280 billion in 2012 compared to €130 billion in 2000.