Brazilian Foreign minister Antonio Patriota said he was hopeful that the European Union and Mercosur could advance this year towards a trade agreement they have been negotiating so far unsuccessfully for almost fifteen years and also warned about the coming EU/US trade talks for a comprehensive accord.
“Much will depend on the sensitivity of the Europeans in relation to certain ‘sensitive’ issues such as agriculture and auto manufacturing” said Patriota but added that “we have advanced more than half the way in the negotiations road map”.
Patriota made the statements before the Brazilian Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and insisted that both in the EU and Mercosur “there have been reiterated positive statements” plus a “clear political and commercial interest to reach an agreement in the shortest time possible”.
However Patriota did not give any timetable for the talks’ conclusions or forecast an approximate date. He did point out that negotiations are “far more advanced” than the discussions that the Europeans and the United States are planning for an overall trade agreement.
Patriota admitted that the EU/US negotiations are effectively an “alert signal” for international trade since when “two giants sit to discuss such issues there is also a strong possibility that something might emerge outside the framework and regulations of the World Trade Organization”
“We are concerned that they could agree on a framework which then they will want to impose on the rest of world trade”, underlined Patriota, but also recalled that the world has changed and “it’s no longer that easy for the developed countries to draft rules and then impose then on the rest”.
“There is evidently a different international scenario and it is no longer possible for developed countries to impose packages on the rest, particularly since the main trade dynamism and growth has moved to the south-south axis”.
Mercosur is currently made up of five full members, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela plus several associate members, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.