Canada, South Africa and India are scheduled to begin this year trade talks with Mercosur, according to reports from Ottawa and Johannesburg.
In what seems a major change in world trade pattern, priority is been given to non traditional partners and economic blocks in the developing world, ahead of the US and European Union, said the South African and Indian Trade ministers.
Speaking in Ottawa Trade Minister Peter Van Loan said the Canadian government had started exploratory trade discussions with the Mercosur block.
“While it’s in the early stage yet, we are pleased with the first steps”, said Van Loan, who did not advance further details. He anticipated the government would introduce legislation to implement a free trade agreement between Canada and Panama.
In Johannesburg Trade and Industry minister Rob Davies said South Africa was intensifying its efforts to enter preferential trade agreements with major economic blocs in the developing world.
“As an influential member of the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu), South Africa will, together with India, begin preliminary negotiations this year with South America's biggest regional trading bloc, Mercosur”, said Davies.
Addressing the opening of the India Show in Johannesburg Mr Davies said the balance of economic forces favours developing countries and this development is the major factor that has influenced Sacu's decision to pursue such an agreement.
“This preferential trade agreement with India and Mercosur will strengthen trade and investment opportunities between the regions”, said Davies.
Indian Commerce and Trade Minister Anand Sharma also present at the inauguration of the Show said a preferential trade agreement between the regions will ”greatly enhance the (economic) relationship between the (three) regions”.
Sharma visited South Africa to finalise details of a preferential trade agreement between India and Sacu.