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EU Issues Update On Mercosur Free Trade Talks

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels Monday, April 17, 2017

The European Commission has summarized progress made during the latest round of negotiations for a trade agreement between the European Union and the Mercosur group of four South American countries.

According to the Commission, during the round that took place in the week beginning March 20, 2017, meetings took place in working groups covering 15 different areas of the negotiations.

The EU tabled textual proposals on Trade and Sustainable Development, Transparency, access to energy and raw materials, an annex on technical barriers to trade in the automotive sector, and a proposal on agriculture including provisions on bilateral and multilateral cooperation, wine and spirits, and other topics, the Commission said.

The parties also agreed to merge their proposals into consolidated texts. They reached a provisional agreement on a full text covering competition, the Commission added.

Both sides agreed to hold an inter-sessional round in Buenos Aires at the end of May 2017, with the next full round due to take place in July.

The negotiations involve 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 trade negotiations but is not a party to the trade negotiations.

Current trade relations between the EU and Mercosur are governed by an inter-regional Framework Cooperation Agreement which entered into force in 1999.

The EU-Mercosur FTA negotiations re-launched in May 2010. Ten negotiation rounds took place before negotiations were paused in 2012. These focused mostly on rules (as opposed to market access commitments). Negotiations then recommenced in October 2016.

The EU is Mercosur's largest trading partner, accounting for 21 percent of the four-nation bloc's total trade in 2015.

The EU's exports to the region have increased from EUR21bn (USD22.25bn) in 2005 to EUR46bn in 2015. Mercosur's exports have increased from EUR32bn to EUR42bn over the same period.

Mercosur's biggest exports to the EU in 2015 were agricultural products, such as foodstuffs, beverages, and tobacco (24 percent); vegetable products, including soya and coffee (18 percent); and meats and other animal products (six percent). Other exports include mineral products (14 percent), wood and paper products (eight percent), and machinery (five percent).

The EU's exports to Mercosur include machinery (29 percent), vehicles and parts (17 percent of total exports), and chemicals and pharmaceuticals (24 percent).

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