Negotiations for a trade deal between the European Union and Mercosur will extend into next year, officials from both sides said on Wednesday, after the Europeans asked for more time to analyze proposed changes.
The talks between the European Union and Mercosur will likely extend into next year after European negotiators said they needed more time to respond to improved offers, a source from Mercosur negotiators said on Tuesday.
Free-trade talks between the European Union and Mercosur still face hurdles over beef and ethanol, and an expected deal announcement this week might not happen, officials involved in negotiations admitted on Monday. Mercosur diplomats on the sidelines of the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires said EU officials had not presented improved offers on EU tariff-free imports for beef and ethanol as promised.
Irish MEP and vice-president of the European Parliament Mairead McGuinness is representing the European Parliament at the ministerial assembly on the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Argentina, which began on Sunday, and has warned that rushing towards a Mercosur/European Union deal would jeopardize the EU beef industry.
The European Union’s farm chief pressed Mercosur countries to offer market access for EU wines, spirits, olive oil and dairy goods to help seal a free-trade agreement that has been in the works for two decades.
Mercosur is confident a framework agreement with the European Union will be announced next week despite resistance from farmers in Europe to permit tariff-free beef imports, a Mercosur official said. “There is more than a 70% chance of reaching a deal,” said the official close to the negotiations that have dragged on for almost two decades.
Brussels will seek to drive forward negotiations on a far-reaching trade deal with Mercosur this week despite warnings from France and other EU members that they are reaching the limit of the concessions they can tolerate on beef and other sensitive agricultural products, according to a report from the Financial Times.
The European Union and Mercosur are close to concluding a free trade accord after decades of fitful talks, an EU official said. “We’re that close to having a new association and trade agreement between EU and Mercosur,” European Commissioner for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen said, holding his index finger and thumb just slightly apart.
Ireland's Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has expressed “grave concerns” about the offer of a beef tariff rate quota in last month’s round of European Union/Mercosur discussions, which he said gives rise to potentially very serious consequences for the Irish and EU beef sector in particular.
Argentine president Mauricio Macri who has made signing trade deals a priority, said he was optimistic that Mercosur, the trade bloc formed by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, would be able to conclude a free trade deal with the European Union by year-end despite differences over beef, ethanol and other agribusiness matters.