EU-Mer­co­sur trade deal in two years: Ar­gentina

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Free trade talks be­tween Europe and South Amer­ica could yield a deal within two years, Ar­gentina’s se­nior trade of­fi­cial said, tak­ing a more pos­i­tive view of trade al­liances be­tween Buenos Aires and its neigh­bors. The Euro­pean Union and the Mer­co­sur bloc led by Brazil launched trade ne­go­ti­a­tions in 1999, but they have faced mul­ti­ple set­backs, partly due to more than a decade of left­ist rule in Ar­gentina. That govern­ment has now re­placed by a more probusi­ness govern­ment since late 2015 that ad­vo­cates trade.

“There is a con­vic­tion among po­lit­i­cal lead­ers of Mer­co­sur and among business peo­ple...that we need more in­te­gra­tion into the global econ­omy and to up­grade our tech­nol­ogy,” Ar­gentina’s Com­merce Sec­re­tary Miguel Braun told re­porters in Brus­sels.

Asked whether a deal by the end of 2017 was pos­si­ble, as Spain has sug­gested, he said it was fea­si­ble, not guar­an­teed. “In terms of ne­go­ti­a­tions, I am op­ti­mistic we can move for­ward at a good pace, maybe one or two years,” he said mid-way through this week’s talks be­tween the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and ne­go­tia­tors from Mer­co­sur mem­bers Ar­gentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Braun rec­og­nized there was re­sis­tance to trade deals in Europe, with large demon­stra­tions against planned ac­cords with the United States and Canada, and a chal­lenge from Bri­tain’s plan to leave the bloc, which he said made the EU a smaller and less at­trac­tive trade part­ner. Trade spe­cial­ists, he said, needed to do a bet­ter job show­ing trade deals were good for the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple and for job cre­ation. For sec­tors for which trade deals pose a risk, he said, gov­ern­ments had to work on com­ple­men­tary poli­cies to less po­ten­tial blows. “Of course in the EU, there are chal­lenges in pub­lic opin­ion.. but at the same time, go­ing back to the Brexit ques­tion, I won­der whether this deal isn’t an op­por­tu­nity to show the Euro­pean project is still dy­namic and mov­ing for­ward,” Braun said.

The EU and the Mer­co­sur ex­changed market ac­cess of­fers in May this year, in­clud­ing lists of im­ports that each side was pre­pared to lib­er­al­ize. The EU was look­ing for more than 90 per­cent of goods and sec­tors to be opened up, how­ever the de­tails have not been made pub­lic. It was the first ex­change of of­fers since 2004. Dif­fi­cult ar­eas in­clude ac­cess to Mer­co­sur for Euro­pean man­u­fac­tured goods and EU ac­cess for Mer­co­sur’s agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, which to­day face high EU farm sub­si­dies. — Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR: A gen­eral view shows af­ter­noon rush of com­muters at the Kuala Lumpur city’s main and largest Cen­tral sta­tion yes­ter­day. — AFP

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