The EU and the Mercosur trade bloc have said that they are committed to making rapid progress toward concluding a free trade agreement, following the latest round of talks in Brussels.
The negotiations are between the EU and the four founding members of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay). Venezuela has been a member of Mercosur since 2012 and is an observer in the negotiations, but is not a party to them.
The latest round was held in Brussels from July 3-7. According to a joint communique issued by the EU and Mercosur, the talks covered a wide range of negotiating texts. These included: trade in goods and services, rules of origin, customs and trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade, trade defense instruments, government procurement, and intellectual property.
The communique explained that chief negotiators had noted their satisfaction with the progress made toward agreements on a number of key issues across the various chapters. It added that the negotiators also met with stakeholders to discuss the state of play and the possible impact of a future agreement and the opportunities it will offer.
Negotiations have been ongoing for 18 years. After an unsuccessful exchange of market offers in 2004, the negotiations were halted for six years. Talks were resumed in 2010, and in April 2016, the two sides agreed to accelerate the pace of discussion.
The next negotiating round will be held in Brasilia in early October. An inter-sessional meeting will be held in Brussels in September.
The EU exports EUR66bn (USD75.3bn) worth of goods and services to Mercosur a year. The EU is the bloc's biggest trading partner and foreign investor. According to EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, EU exporters pay over EUR4bn a year in tariffs on exports to Mercosur.