Mercosur talks advanced

July 20th, 2017 8:05 AM

By Southern Star Team

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EU and Latin American trade bloc Mercosur leaders aim to initial a bilateral trade deal in the margins of the 11th WTO Ministerial in Buenos Aires in December (11th to 14th), with both sides conceding that expectations must remain ‘realistic' in a bid to find a ‘balanced agreement' by the year's end. 

Speaking at an event in Brussels on July 6th, the chief negotiators from the EU and Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay) emerged upbeat following an intensive round of talks (July 3rd to 7th) and were united in their ambition to finalise a deal by December. 

Both sides plan to table revised market access offers following the German federal election on September 24th, but would not be drawn on a more precise date (most likely in the middle of October). 

The EU's chief negotiator, Sandra Gallina, spoke enthusiastically about securing a future ‘top-notch agreement with a region composed of vibrant democracies.' But she acknowledged the EU's ‘limitations on agriculture,' reiterating her commitment to ‘safeguarding the EU's defensive interests' such as beef and ethanol. 

The panel discussion that took place earlier in the evening, comprising industry representatives (textiles, sugarcane, SMEs and services), underlined that an EU-Mercosur trade deal was ‘much more than an agreement on agriculture,' focusing attention on the ‘untapped potential' of the Mercosur market. They emphasised the first-mover advantage for EU companies offering ‘unrivalled access' to the bloc with a combined GDP of €2.2 trillion (2015) and a population of around 260 million. 

News of accelerated talks and ambitions of a deal are likely to spark concern among Irish beef farmers, as the Latin American companies are among the biggest global producers and the most competitive. 

As the Brazilian Ambassador put it, ‘you cannot have an announcement of an agreement if you do not have the big numbers on market access … I cannot say I have finished and not know what the market access for beef and ethanol will be like.' 

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