Uruguay needs a quick resumption of Mercosur/European Union trade and cooperation talks because at the end of the year expire a number of tariff benefits for Uruguayan exports, revealed Foreign minister Luis Almagro.
“The end of those EU tariff benefits in 2014 will be a ‘special blow’ for several Uruguayan industries and thus it becomes essential for Mercosur and the EU to exchange the list of (goods and services) proposals which is scheduled to take place in the fourth quarter”, said Almagro in an interview with a Montevideo radio.
Almagro said Uruguay has to live with measures imposed by Argentina and other countries, but “this is a special blow since it will have an impact for fisheries, citrus, skins, wood and pulp which currently have virtual access with zero tariff to the EU market”.
The Uruguayan minister said that the EU ‘parametric’ to extend that benefit, which is a unilateral decision, depends on the GDP of each country, which in the case of Uruguay has considerably increased in recent years.
“This means that many of those tariff benefits will fall since Uruguay is now considered a country of medium and high medium per capita income” added Almagro.
The minister admitted that the recent agreement which opened the US market for Uruguayan citrus could help to mitigate some of the impact “but there are other sectors such as fish processing, wood, and several other agriculture items for which the situation will be different”.
“That is why it is essential the exchange of proposals between Mercosur and the EU scheduled for the last quarter of the year. The exchange of proposals is not going to be easy but negotiations won’t be easy, since we are at the last leg of negotiations for a trade agreement between two blocks”, said Almagro.
“It could turn out to be a very long or a very short process, it all depends how close the respective proposals are presented”.
Negotiations so far have been stalled because of EU refusal to accept proposals referred to agriculture produce access to its market, while Brussels demands better access for its manufacture and service sectors to Mercosur.
Brazil is also interested in a quick resumption of Mercosur/EU trade talks and during the recent summit in Montevideo President Dilma Rousseff called on her peers “to accelerate the block’s trade negotiations, particularly those with the EU” to ensure “a new global insertion agenda” that takes advantage of the full potential of the South American customs union.