The European Union and Mercosur will likely close a trade agreement in the near future, Brazil’s Foreign Trade Secretary Lucas Ferraz said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We’ve never been so close,” Ferraz said adding, “we’ve advanced more in four months than in 20 years”.
Talks between the two blocs have dragged on for over two decades and, as recently as in January, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that France’s resistance to Mercosur demands on farm goods caused an impasse.
But France is no longer a stumbling block, Ferraz said in reference to previous disagreements over plans to give Mercosur farm products increased access to the European market.
Instead, it is Brazil that still needs to work out a few remaining technicalities, Ferraz said.
In the most optimistic scenario, an accord in principle could be reached as early as next week during a round of talks in Buenos Aires. If not, the agreement may come at the following gathering, possibly in June.
Next June, Mercosur is holding its six month summit when the chair of the group will be passed from Argentina to Brazil.
Brazil and Argentina, two of the Mercosur members along with Uruguay and Paraguay, earlier this year said they wanted to modernize the block, cutting red tape and eliminating a series of exemptions that undermined the effectiveness of the customs union’s common external tariff.
After years of prevailing populist governments in the region, particularly in Argentina and Brazil, the Mercosur consensus is now inspired in market oriented policies and open markets, particularly with presidents Mauricio Macri and Jair Bolsonaro.
However Brazilian optimism could be curtailed by results in the coming European Union parliamentary elections at the end of May.