Mercosur officials together with representatives from Spain, Portugal and the European Community agreed Monday to provide greater emphasis to the technical meetings with the purpose of advancing towards an association agreement between the two blocks.
The Foreign Affairs ministers’ meeting was held in the sidelines of the Ibero-American summit hosted by Portugal in Estoril, together with a bilateral meeting of Spanish president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Spain is scheduled to take over the EU chair in the first half of 2010 and Argentina as of next January will be running Mercosur pro tempore secretariat.
At the meeting according to Argentine sources, which was attended by Mercosur four full member ministers (Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina) they called on Spain to re-launch trade and association negotiations when it takes over the EU presidency.
Mercosur hopes to expand access of its farm produce to the European market while the 27 member EU want better conditions for their industrial exports and service companies with interests in South American.
Negotiations between Mercosur and the EU for an association agreement launched in 1999 remain frozen since 2004, when they were conditioned to the evolution of the World Trade Organization Doha Round that are stalled and apparently with not much chances of advancing.
Nevertheless Mrs. Kirchner and Rodríguez Zapatero said that political relations between both groups are extraordinary.
“We are working on the possibility of an understanding for a negotiation timetable, that must be reached before May 18 when the Latinamerica, Caribbean and Mercosur summit with the European Union in Spain next year”, said Mrs Kirchner.