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Montevideo, April 12th 2024 - 10:27 UTC



EU-Mercosur deal not this year, Peña says

Thursday, February 29th 2024 - 11:40 UTC
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Neither Mercosur nor Paraguay will stand idly waiting for Europe's decisions, Peña stressed Neither Mercosur nor Paraguay will stand idly waiting for Europe's decisions, Peña stressed

Paraguayan President Santiago Peña, who holds the pro-tempore presidency of the South American Common Market (Mercosur), ruled out Wednesday in Madrid an agreement with the European Union (EU) this year while insisting that his trip to Spain was more to offer than to ask.

“More than coming to ask, we come to offer,” said Peña, who also acknowledged that due to its historical, “political, cultural, and economic value,” Spain remained the “gateway” to Europe for Paraguayan products.

Regarding the neverending negotiations for the EU-Mercosur free-trade deal, Peña insisted that ”we have to manage expectations“ thus dodging the question of declaring the matter dead and buried. ”I'm sure it's not going to happen this year. I think we have to be very honest with ourselves,“ he stressed. ”The conditions are not in place on the side of the European Union,“ he added. The Mercosur countries are ”more than ready to move forward,“ he also noted.

Peña argued that although the agreement offered ”opportunities“ for EU countries, there were ”tensions“ and ”sensitivities“ because ”competing with Mercosur agricultural producers is impossible“ given the larger size of the South American countries compared to those of the EU.

”Honestly, I am a faithful believer in the integration of markets and I believe that it is in the interest of European Union consumers, but it will also require a political effort to compensate in some way (the affected sectors),“ Peña explained as he hinted subsidies might be in order, although not permanently.

”One of the great strengths of globalization“ is to open up to ”regions of the world that can produce these same products at more competitive prices,“ Peña maintained.

While France and Ireland are pushing for ”mirror clauses“ to ensure that imports from Mercosur are subject to the same standards imposed on European farmers, Peña stressed that neither Mercosur nor Paraguay would stand idly waiting for European decisions and recalled the recent signing of a free trade agreement with Singapore and the advanced negotiations with the United Arab Emirates.

”Paraguay, as an active member of Mercosur, will continue to propose integration to all markets, and we hope that Europe can understand the opportunities that it also offers,” Peña also underlined.

On his last day in Spain, Peña met separately with King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. “With His Majesty the King, Don Felipe de Borbón y Grecia, we share the vision of a more integrated Ibero-America, based on common projects that we can carry out together for the benefit of our people,” Peña wrote on social networks. He also praised Spain as the fifth largest investor worldwide.

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