Mercosur will retake next March technical discussions for a new proposal to be presented to the European Union for a trade and cooperation agreement, announced Argentine Foreign minister Hector Timerman next to his peer Antonio Patriota following bilateral talks on Wednesday in Rio do Janeiro.
The meetings at technical level to be held in Montevideo will have the purpose of delivering to the EU, before the end of the year an “improved proposal” to reignite the stalled negotiations.
“Obviously the accord must be advantageous for our region. The agriculture issue is essential”, said Patriota who recalled that the main barrier to the advance of negotiations has been the resistance from European countries to open their markets to South American farm produce.
Patriota said the first technical meeting will take place next March first in Montevideo, but negotiations will only advance after April, following the Paraguayan presidential election which remains suspended from Mercosur since June last year when the removal by Congress of then president Fernando Lugo.
EU/Mercosur negotiations were addressed earlier this month on the sidelines of the Community of Latinamerican and Caribbean states summit held in Santiago de Chile.
In Santiago and following a meeting of Cristina Fernandez with Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, the Argentine leader said that Mercosur expects “to discuss and re-elaborate” new proposals to present to the European block and thus reactivate negotiations for an ambitious trade and cooperation agreement with the EU, with ongoing negotiations and hiatus since 1999.
However Cristina Fernandez underlined that negotiations “can’t be based on what happened in 2004”, since “in this new world there are new players and new trade exchange terms”.
In related news Patriota said that Brazil supports the incorporation of Suriname to Mercosur. His statement followed a meeting with Suriname Foreign minister Winston Lackin in which a cooperation and technical aid agreement for agriculture was signed.
“We are interested in joining Mercosur as an associate member and later we shall make a technical study to see the possibilities and benefits of becoming a full member of the regional group”, said Lackin.
Mercosur currently has five full members Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela and Paraguay suspended, plus associate members Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador. Bolivia in the last summit formally requested to become a full member of Mercosur.