Mercosur will present a joint proposal to the European Union for a wide ranging trade agreement between the two blocks later this month, announced Brazil’ Minister of Industry Mauro Borges, following a visit to Buenos Aires where he met with Economy minister Axel Kicillof and Industry minister Debora Giorgi.
Borges travelled to Buenos Aires to personally address the issue which has been repeatedly delayed because of allegedly Argentine reluctance to agree to a list of products and services sponsored by Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay which is far more liberal and open that the one the Cristina Fernandez administration was willing to accept.
Following the bilateral meeting over the weekend, Borges said he was ‘most satisfied’ because positions had closed in and would allow the presentation of a joint list by the Mercosur members (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, since Venezuela is not part of the deal yet) to the European Union which “also strengthens the regional block and trade integration”.
“We’re heading towards a joint presentation which is highly competitive” said Borges but did not reveal details of his optimism.
Mercosur and the EU have been in negotiations for an ambitious cooperation and free trade agreement since 1999, but efforts have been repeatedly stalled or frozen for years. This last round was launched in 2010, and apparently is approaching the final stages for the signature of an overall agreement, which both blocks need for different reasons.
The meetings between the Brazilian delegate and his Argentine peers also included Brazil’s trouble shooter and presidential advisor Marco Aurelio García and the Argentine cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich.
Brazil has made every possible effort to include its ‘strategic partner’ as Brasilia describes Argentina, in the EU negotiations despite Buenos Aires reluctance and different economic policy approach. Argentina is also in the short list of main trade partners of Brazil.
However things are not that clear or optimistic since Mercosur so far has been unable to materialize its end of the year summit delayed since December and still with no final date for a meeting that must be held in Venezuela that currently holds the rotating chair.