The conclusion of a trade and cooperation agreement between the European Union and Mercosur ‘only depends on the bloc’ said the European Commission Vice-President for Industry and Entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani.
“Mercosur has its problems; we have been discussing the cooperation and trade agreement for over a decade, almost fifteen years and the issue is clearly in the hands of Mercosur”, said Tajani following his recent two day visit to Brasilia where he arranged to advance with EU/Brazil talks next February.
“Brazil is too important, is full of opportunities for business and investments, and for the EU agreements are essential to continue developing and expanding”.
Tajani said that the EU has trade agreements with many countries and blocs worldwide, and is currently in negotiations with the United States for a wide ranging trade and investment accord, “which could be of benefit for all sides”.
The EC top official said that Mercosur has ‘problems’ (in reference to the institutional problems created by the suspension of Paraguay and the inclusion of Venezuela as full member without the participation of Paraguay), nevertheless “EU will continue to work with Mercosur, but will also advance in negotiations with the US”.
“We’ll wait and see how Mercosur reacts but in the meantime we have been dealing with Brazil on other issues, which are not necessarily related to trade”.
The EU has a mandate to negotiate proposals (exchange of products’ lists) with Mercosur by the end of the year, but the institutional problems arising with Paraguay and Venezuela, plus Argentina’s reluctance to adhere to a free trade agreement, and more inclined to protectionist practices are conspiring against that goal
“The EU has a mandate to negotiate with Mercosur and thus discussions must be in bloc, which means Paraguay must be included”, said Paraguay Foreign minister Eladio Loizaga, who added that Paraguay has its proposal ready for the exchange scheduled for before the end of the year. “That means we are ready to begin negotiations”.
Finally Loizaga added that “Argentina is a bit delayed with its proposals, and Venezuela will not be participating in the round of negotiations”. Likewise Paraguay as of next year will be the only Mercosur member to benefit from the EU Generalized System of Preferences, since the other countries per capita income has risen above the cap contemplated by the EU.