A free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur is close to being concluded, with a final push over the line seen by early September, Argentina’s foreign minister said on Thursday. Negotiations between the EU and the Mercosur group of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, the world’s fourth largest trading bloc, have been going on for almost 20 years.
European companies are urging the European Union to accelerate trade negotiations with Mercosur bloc, in a sign of concern that the 20-year talks could once again fall dormant if they do not reach an accord this week.
Uruguay will be handed the rotating chair of Mercosur this Monday in a brief summit ceremony to take place in Paraguay. Attending will be Brazil's Michel Temer, Uruguay's Tabare Vázquez, the host Paraguay Horacio Cartes and in representation of Argentina, vice president Gabriela Michetti. President Mauricio Macri is in the midst of a cabinet reshuffle and waiting for market reaction this Monday following the naming of a new Central Bank chairman.
Immigration to Uruguay, Argentina and Chile has exploded exponentially in recent years. It is receiving an “unprecedented” daily requests for refuge in the southern country, according to the Director of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law of the Uruguayan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dianela Pi, who explained to MercoPress that “There are acts of discrimination and xenophobia that are emerging in Uruguay as never before” as a result of the migratory phenomenon. This wave comes mostly from citizens of Venezuelan origin.
Mercosur and the European Union begin a fresh round of trade talks this week with renewed optimism that negotiators may be nearing an accord after almost 20 years of talks. Since trade negotiations with the United States were frozen after Donald Trump's 2016 presidential election victory, the European Union has turned its focus to other large economies and has already struck agreements with Japan and Mexico.
South Korea and Mercosur agreed to begin formal negotiations for a trade deal in the latter half of this year to facilitate commerce and investment, the Seoul government said on Friday. South Korea signed an agreement to launch the negotiations with four Mercosur member states -- Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay -- during a ceremony held in Seoul. Mercosur expelled Venezuela in 2016 for failing to meet its basic standards.
Mercosur trade bloc looks to begin economic and trade talks with Japan as soon as November, Brazil's foreign minister said, calling trade with Asia essential to regional economic health as the U.S. embraces protectionism.
The European Union and Mercosur have made some progress on how to open their markets to cars, but ended free trade talks in Brussels on Friday with finger-pointing about who was holding up a deal. The EU and the Mercosur bloc of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay began on-off negotiations towards a trade alliance in 1999, with a fresh impetus since 2016.
Argentina's central bank surprised markets at the end of the week by jolting its key interest rate up to 30.25% from 27.25%, citing weakness of the local peso against the US dollar and vowing to act again if high inflation persists.
While Chilean President Sebastián Piñera started a commercial tour in Brazil last Thursday, in which he avoids Uruguay because the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Chile is blocked in the Uruguayan Parliament since 2016, ex-president José Mujica explained that he supports the FTA with Chile in order to look for “the best incentives to ensure commercial stability.” The bench of former president Mujica and the communist party refuse to approve the commercial agreement.