Paraguay hosts Mercosur preparatory meeting ahead of EU talks

Development Commissioner Neven Mimica and Paraguayan Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga. [European Commission]

Paraguay, which holds the rotating presidency of Mercosur, will host representatives of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, to formulate a common position on a trade agreement with the European Union, the Paraguayan Foreign Ministry announced.

On 18 and 19 August, Asuncion will hold the Mercosur Coordinators Meeting, which will also address other issues such as the free movement of goods in the territory of the group, said Paraguayan Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga, according to a statement.

Mercosur is composed of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, while Bolivia is in the process of accession.

“The four countries are the ones who are involved in negotiations with the European Union. We have to go together, because the expanded market is the most important that we will be negotiating with the EU,” said the minister.

“Just as they will have a large market with 28 states, there are sensitive products that need to be negotiated,” he added.

The minister said that agricultural products are of the utmost importance to South American countries, and that industrial goods hold parallel significance for Europeans.

“It’s an issue that has to be measured in its true dimension,” said Loizaga.

The Paraguayan Foreign Minister said his country is leading an initiative to Uruguay “this semester”.

“Because the goal of Mercosur is the free circulation of goods, and in our country circulate goods from other member countries of Mercosur, we also want equal circulation for our products,” Loizaga said.

At the EU-CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) summit in Belgium in June, Mercosur foreign ministers agreed to hold an exchange of offers with the EU “quickly”.

>>Read: Paraguay warns against ‘two speed’ negotiations

According to Mercosur, their proposal for the supply of goods, services, investment and government procurement is already prepared, but officials said that it could not be made public because the Europeans say that they have not yet completed the process of internal consultations to table their proposal.

Subscribe to our newsletters