Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman set in motion the 39th Mercosur Summit during which Argentina informed of the results obtained under its pro-tempore presidency of the bloc in the first six months of the year.
Issues such as customs union, regional infrastructure and productive integration were discussed in the province of San Juan where the meeting is being held. A free-trade agreement was signed with Egypt and Venezuela and Colombia's broken ties appeared as a floating topic among those to-be-discussed issues, as it was decided not to establish the matter as part of the agenda.
The plenary session was presided by Timerman, along with his colleagues from Brazil, Celso Amorim; Uruguay, Luis Almagro; and Paraguay, Héctor Lacognata. Also in attendance were members of the Economy Ministers Council, such as Amado Boudou (Argentina), Fernando Lorenzo (Uruguay), Guido Mantega (Brazil), and Dionisio Borda (Paraguay).
The trade agreement signed with Egypt is expected to open a market of 76 million consumers to primary and industrialized products from Mercosur. With the agreement, the majority of Mercosur exports to Egypt will enter free of tariffs beginning immediately, Argentine Industry Minister Débora Giorgi said from San Juan province.
Mercosur, a potent agriculture producer integrated by Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay, is also a world automotive and auto-parts producer.
”New opportunities in products that we currently don't sell (to Egypt), such as vehicles, auto-parts, pharmaceutical drugs, paper products, chicken, and fruits, among others, will open up, Giorgi detailed.
Egyptian Industry and Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid participated in the agreement's negotiations.
The trade agreement orders the removal of tariffs, differentiating between four groups of products according the set time-line. In the first group, which encompasses meats, butter, wheat, corn, oils and valves, the elimination of tariffs is to be applied immediately. In the second group, which includes milk and industrial goods, the elimination time-limit will be within the next four years. The third and fourth groups are to be without tariffs eight to ten years from now, respectively.
Argentina highlighted that its most important achievement during its pro-tempore presidency was the re-launching of negotiations with the European Union with the objective of reaching an Inter-regional Association Agreement said the Foreign Ministry informed.
Buenos Aires also estimates that during the summit, the elimination of the double recovery of the common external tariff and the mechanism of distribution of customs revenue” is to be established, after more than five years of negotiations between the members of the bloc.
Mercosur presidents are scheduled to meet Tuesday to wrap up the two-day negotiations.