EU stalls on new Mercosur trade offers, delaying deal

Aloysio Nunes, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, on the left and Cecilia Malmström, the EC Trade Commissioner, during the WTO 11th ministerial conference, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 10 December 2017. [Commission]

Trade talks between the European Union and South America’s Mercosur bloc will likely extend into next year after European negotiators said they needed more time to respond to improved offers, a source close to Mercosur negotiators said on Tuesday (12 December).

Mercosur delegates had hoped to announce a so-called political agreement outlining the deal’s key points this week at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial conference in Buenos Aires or during the free-trade bloc’s meeting in Brasilia next week, the source said.

Mexico sees EU trade deal by end of month

Mexico and the European Union are working to wrap up negotiations on a new version of their 17-year-old trade deal by the end of the month, the Mexican economy ministry said on Tuesday (5 December).

But when Mercosur presented “new indications” of changes it was willing to make to its offers, the EU said it was not prepared to present new proposals of its own, said the source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the talks.

Commission pushes for concluding Mercosur deal by end of year

Despite France’s concerns about an EU-Mercosur deal, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker insisted on Friday (20 October) on reaching an agreement by the end of this year because it is “the most important” trade deal for Europe.

“The EU said it was not in a position to reciprocate and would be better able to respond next year,” the source said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes said the two sides had traded notes on how much each was willing to cede and Mercosur was waiting for the EU to respond to its proposal. European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström had told reporters the deal could come early in the new year.

“We have made good advancement but there’s still stock taking today,” Malmström said on Tuesday morning. “We see the end of this.”

Resistance by some EU member states, such as Ireland and France, to agricultural imports, has delayed negotiation of the trade pact that seeks to liberalise commerce and investment, services and access to public procurement.

Farmers warn against ‘devastating’ impact of Mercosur on EU beef

European farmers’ unions are urging the European Commission not to allow a surge in beef imports from South America’s Mercosur trading bloc, saying it would have a “devastating impact” on rural jobs and EU food standards.

Mercosur members Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay have pushed for an improvement on the EU offer of tariff-free imports for 70,000 tonnes a year of beef and 600,000 tonnes of ethanol a year. They complain that it is lower than the 100,000-tonne beef offer the EU made in 2004, though EU negotiators say Europeans eat less meat today.

Brazil tells the EU 'it won't move' on Mercosur talks without ethanol and beef

Brazil insists that it will not table a new offer as part of the ongoing EU-Mercosur talks until a proposal on beef and ethanol is on the table. EURACTIV Spain reports.

The EU did not present an improved offer for either product during the current round, the Mercosur source said.

“There is a lot of pressure from the European farm sector,” the source said. “The EU is working with the agricultural sector and its member states to get to a place where it is able to reciprocate.”