Member nations of Mercosur will seek to boost economic and political ties with Cuba in a bid to make the island an associate member of the trade bloc.
Mercosur members also signed agreements with representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Syria and the Palestinian territories authority to negotiate free trade agreements between the bloc and those countries.
Brazil’s Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, speaking to reporters at a summit of Mercosur leaders in Foz de Iguacu, Brazil, said that member states also agreed on a timeframe of 10 years to eliminate exceptions to the bloc’s common external tariff.
Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay formed Mercosur in 1991 with the aim of creating a common market in the Southern Cone of South America. Trade within the bloc is expected to reach 42 billion US dollars this year.
Earlier in the week Mercosur signed an agreement to exchange trade preferences with 11 developing nations including India, Egypt, and Indonesia. The agreement gives a 20% tariff break on 70% of the goods sold between the participating countries.
Meantime Argentine Foreign Affairs minister Hector Timerman met with his peer from the United Arab Emirates, Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, to consider beginning discussions on a trade agreement between Mercosur and the Cooperation Council of the Gulf.
Precisely since UAE currently holds the rotating chair of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the minister of Foreign Affairs was invited to the Mercosur summit in Brazil.
The Gulf Cooperation Council was started in 1981 and includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrein, UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.
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