European Union’s top trade negotiator, Karel de Gucht, accused Argentina of being “the great obstacle” in an association agreement between the EU and Mercosur, and threatened to take the case before the WTO.
“Argentina’s protectionism is creating problems and they are making our exporters nervous, especially in the automotive industry. If the Argentine people do not change their attitude, we may take this case to the World Trade Organization,” De Gucht threatened.
The EU parliamentary committee for Mercosur relations debated the current state of negotiations, which were restarted last year after a long impasse.
The European official admitted that Argentina’s protectionist measures are “damaging negotiations” between both blocs, and added that this could create additional problems that could put an end to the new approach.
However, De Gucht seemed to be cautiously optimistic towards the possibility that both parties “get to sign this historic accord in 2011.”
“From an economic and political point of view, I’m convinced that this agreement will create substantial benefits for both regions” he said.
The negotiator’s statements were made as Agriculture Ministers from all EU countries met in order to discuss any possible negative impact in the farming sector as a result of the agreement between the two regional blocs, the organization’s diplomatic sources explained.
After several years without engaging in direct talks, the European Commission and the Mercosur resumed dialogue in 2010 and since then have had several negotiations rounds, the last in Brussels in March, the next in Asuncion, Paraguay, in May.