Conditions are ready to reach in the short term a trade agreement with the European Union, said Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo whose country, and for the next six months, holds the pro tempore chair of the South American block.
Addressing the Mercosur summit in Foz de Iguazú, Brazil, Lugo said that negotiations wit the EU have been relevant “in the search for a balanced agreement that is mutually beneficial”.
“We must continue with determination the current negotiations, trying to conclude them as soon as possible, and we believe that those conditions are there”, said Lugo.
Negotiations with the EU are top of the agenda for Mercosur. Talks had been stalled since 2004 and it was only last May that discussions were re-launched following a political agreement in Madrid during a summit of Latinamerican and EU leaders.
The main difficulties facing the talks are agriculture, manufactured goods and some services.
Earlier in December Brasilia hosted the third round of talks that begun in Buenos Aires and were followed in Brussels.
Precisely next March 2011 in Brussels both sides will be presenting their new proposals and in May in Asunción, Paraguay’s capital, they will be working on them in what is considered the conclusive discussion. An agreement should be ready to sign sometime in the third quarter of 2011.
President Lugo said that one of the purposes of the trade agreement with the EU is to ensure that Mercosur countries can “transform their economic structures generating better jobs and improving the quality of life” of its peoples.
“We can’t be limited to commodities’ exports and having Paraguayan labour forced to emigrate. We want Paraguay to become an efficient producer with added value to its commodities”, said Lugo.