EU and Mercosur to re-initiate free-trade talks next week

21 September 2018 17:25 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)-EU and Mercosur negotiators will hold another round of negotiations next week in Uruguay with the aim of reaching a free trade agreement (FTA), a Commission spokesman has told ICIS.

"The EU is committed to a successful conclusion of an ambitious, balanced and mutually beneficial agreement with Mercosur, as soon as all the necessary elements will be present," they said late on Friday.

Mercosur includes Latin American countries Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Venezuela is a full member but has been suspended since 2016. Bolivia is an associate member.

A round of talks held last week in Uruguay's capital Montevideo between the two blocks was widely reported to have ended with no deal by 13 September.

Latin American outlets quoted Uruguay's foreign minister and Mercosur president, Rodolfo Nin Novoa, as saying that nothing more would be heard of on trade talks between the two blocks until 2019 at least.

Argentina's minister of external relations, Jorge Faurie, also reportedly suggested that the time window in which to reach a deal was closing. Mercosur sources have previously told ICIS that its negotiators would prioritise Asia.

The talks come following the publication of an EU policy paper in August, which stated that reaching a deal has become increasingly important to global politics and trade.

The paper, which European Members of Parliament voted in favour of,  also said that Mercosur's excessive reliance on exports to China and industrial protectionism in chemicals are core stumbling blocks to reaching a FTA.

Key sticking points in the latest talks have been sugar and ethanol, according to sources. The International Confederation of European Beet Growers (CIBE) said this week it opposed the sugar imports that could come with a Mercosur deal.

Pictured: The four Mercosur member countries
Source: European Commission

By Clare Pennington