The lack of ‘tuning’ in trade affairs is not the only motive stalling the decade long Mercosur/European Union trade and cooperation discussions according to EU ambassador in Montevideo, Juan Fernandez Trigo who also included what he described as the ‘new historic reality’.
“Unfortunately it’s a long story and the feeling that it has delayed too long; some describe it as the most difficult trade accord ever negotiated” said Fernandez Trigo who recalled that discussions had certain tempo from 2000 to 2004 and again since 2010 to currently.
But changes have taken place on both sides of the Atlantic: “it’s not only rival commercial sectors competing but also historic circumstances that have changed: when it all started the EU had 15 members, now it has 28; when Mercosur started it was four members and now it has other partners with a different attitude towards global trade. All this generates new conditions”.
Nevertheless the EU ambassador recalled that bilateral trade of goods and services with Mercosur reached 125 billion Euros and foreign investments from EU in Mercosur, total 286bn Euros.
Fernandez Trigo said that of three legs of the agreement, two have been overcome: the political and cooperation aspects in areas such as education, sustainable development, audiovisuals, laboratories, “it is fluid and solid”.
The big problem is trade and investment, which if agreed could generate a great free trade zone in which 90% of goods and services would operate with virtually zero tariffs.
“The EU already has agreements of this kind with Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia,” which said Fernandez Trigo happen to have joined into the Pacific Alliance.
“This year we’ve lost precious time, an important year for a big boost, but the situation with Paraguay and Argentine elections has delayed plus the fact that Mercosur sends dissimilar messages, which complicates things”.
Finally “Uruguay is the most inclined for a quick agile negotiation compared to other Mercosur members more retracted in their positions but which I prefer not to mention”