The European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Rodolfo Nin Novoa, Foreign Minister of Uruguay, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the South American trading bloc Mercosur, agreed on Friday in Brussels on the next steps in the negotiations on an EU-Mercosur trade agreement.
In the second week of May, the EU and Mercosur will exchange market access offers specifying ways to increase mutual openness to each other’s goods and services, including access to public tenders. The meeting also resulted in the adoption of a roadmap for talks during the rest of the year.
Commissioner Malmström said: I am glad we can now move forward with these longstanding negotiations. Europe has strong economic and political links with Latin America. Enhancing trade conditions between the EU and the countries of Mercosur would bring important economic benefits to our economies. Both sides are strongly committed, so I trust that the upcoming exchange of offers will allow us to successfully resume these talks towards an ambitious and comprehensive deal.
Intense negotiations between the EU and Mercosur took place between 1999 and 2004. After an unsuccessful exchange of market offers in 2004, the negotiations were halted for six years. Since the resumption of negotiations in 2010, nine negotiation rounds have taken place, preparing the work for a new exchange of offers soon. Renewed political support by Mercosur countries and EU Member States will pave the way for new rounds of negotiations this year.
The objective is to negotiate a comprehensive trade agreement, cutting customs duties, removing barriers to trade in services and improving rules related to public tenders, customs procedures, technical barriers to trade and protection of intellectual property.
Mercosur includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, as well as Venezuela, which is not currently participating in the negotiation. The EU's exports to the region have steadily increased over the last few years, making Mercosur the EU's 6th most important export market. EU-Mercosur trade in goods amounted to over €88 billion in 2015.
The EU is Mercosur's first trading partner, a major provider of commercial services, as well as the biggest foreign investor in the region. EU companies pay over 4 billion euros in tariff duties annually when exporting to the Mercosur countries