The European Union Mercosur trade agreement is still far from becoming a reality and the coming Ibero-American summit in Mar del Plata early December is not expected to signal any significant achievement in this field, according to Spanish political analysts who anticipate some advances towards the end of next year.
“We are not stalled. But in the best of circumstances a EU/Mercosur agreement is not feasible because if discussions continue to the limited field of tariffs, we’ll be heading to another failure in negotiations”, said Carlos Malamud from Elcano Royal Institute, one of the main think-tanks in Spain on Latinamerica.
Juan Carlos Sánchez Alonso, Ibero-American policy Director General at the Spanish Foreign Office had a similar reaction.
“If we have a clearer political scenario in France next year, most probably EU/Mercosur talks could pick up and advance at a good rhythm” said Sanchez Alonso. He was referring the group of (ten/twelve) EU countries led by France and Ireland that are against opening the EU market to Mercosur farm goods, fearful of competition and arguing that EU must ensure food security, among other issues, before going ahead with the negotiations.
Spain’s Industry, Tourism and Commerce minister Jose Garcia de Quevedo also mentioned that EU investors in Latinamerica demand basically four conditions: stable rules of the game; the non enforcement of retro-active legislation; non-discrimination between domestic and foreign industries and fair compensation for investments.
“Certainly trade agreements between the EU and Latinamerica could help, and quite significantly to generate sustainable investments and recovery for the global economy, but there are other considerations to be taken into account”, added the Spanish officer.
Finally another issue that hangs over investment decisions is the need to improve street, every day security both for domestic and foreign entrepreneurs in Latinamerica.
“There’s a hidden pandemic in Latinamerica which is a major challenge for the region if we take into account that 70% of all kidnappings in the world occur in the region” said Fernando Garcia Casas, cabinet chief of the Ibero-American Secretariat.
The coming summit in Mar del Plata, December 3 and 4 hosted by President Cristina Fernandez is expected to address this and a long list of pending issues, in spite of the fact that the meeting’s objective is “Education for development”.
However the recent alleged coup and police mutiny in Ecuador is anticipated to spur strong debate, since President Rafael Correa has requested Ibero-American Secretary General Enrique Iglesias, a specific condemnation clause in the final declaration.
Mercosur and EU technical groups are expected to meet in Brasilia in the coming days to continue with the renewed discussions which were started earlier this year.
In the last round of talks in Brussels both sides agreed to have negotiations concluded during 2011.