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Mercosur/EU trade talks to resume next Monday in Portugal

Saturday, November 28th 2009 - 07:28 UTC
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Rodriguez Zapatero wants a successful Spanish EU presidency Rodriguez Zapatero wants a successful Spanish EU presidency

Mercosur countries are preparing a meeting with European representatives on the sidelines of the Ibero-American summit this weekend in Portugal to confirm their “interest” in reactivating trade negotiations with the EU, according to Spanish diplomatic sources.

The meeting scheduled for next Monday will count with the attendance of delegates from Mercosur, the European Commission, Portugal the summit host-country and Spain that will be presiding over the EU during the first semester of 2010.

The meeting convened on request from Uruguay (currently Mercosur chair) has as its main purpose “to show the interest of Mercosur countries in concluding the trade agreement with the EU”, said Uruguayan sources.

“They have the political will and are committed to accelerate negotiations”, said representatives from Mercosur full members, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The period coincides with Spain’s EU presidency as of next January and for the following six months. Spain has repeatedly stated that it wants to thrust and start moving the negotiations that were launched ten years ago.

“The agreement has been stalled for so long that the mere fact of showing an interest is like saying new prospects are on the way”, said Spanish sources adding that the talks had been linked to the evolution of the World Trade Organization Doha Round to liberalize world trade that “also remain blocked”.

Delegates from both sides had a first approach this week in Madrid according to the Spanish newspaper El País which revealed the Socialist government of President Rodriguez Zapatero is intent is reaching an “agreement on minimums” during the next six months with a draft accord ready to be presented during the EU-Latinamerica summit next May in Madrid.

Negotiations begun in 1999 and have been frozen since 2004 conditioned to the results of the Doha round. But given the major stoppage in world trade negotiations, countries and regional blocks should begin moving on their specific trade interests.

The EU is interested in greater access to Mercosur for its industrial produce and services while the South American block wants a fairer agriculture policy with EU cutting subsidies and aid to EU farmers.

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