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Montevideo, April 24th 2024 - 17:57 UTC



FTA negotiations between Japan and Mercosur to start next month, Paraguayan FM says

Tuesday, March 12th 2024 - 18:35 UTC
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Ramírez also admitted that Paraguay was looking for “opportunities of mutual interest to work with Japan” Ramírez also admitted that Paraguay was looking for “opportunities of mutual interest to work with Japan”

The South American Common Market (Mercosur) will start negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Japan next month, Paraguay's Foreign Minister Rubén Ramírez Lezcano acknowledged in an interview with the Nikkei economic newspaper. Paraguay currently holds the rotating presidency of the regional bloc.

The news came amid frozen talks with the European Union following over 20 years of bargaining, due to which the Asian market is being targeted. Japan alone is the world's fourth-largest economy.

The Paraguayan Foreign Minister, who is visiting Japan, also focused on trade relations with China, following the FTA proposed by Uruguay, which President Luis Lacalle Pou said was hindered by Brazil and Argentina.

“Mercosur is looking for more agreements with other Asian countries,” Ramírez also pointed out after an FTA with Singapore signed in December and Uruguay's lone-wolf endeavors to reach an understanding with China. In this regard, Beijing's ambassador to Montevideo said that a collective agreement with the bloc would be better than one with just one country and insisted that “among friends, we can coordinate and study how we can deal well with this matter.”

Ramírez pointed out that Paraguay was looking for “opportunities of mutual interest to work with Japan” in other areas, such as renewable energies and technology. Asunción plans to invite Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to over the South American country later this year. Kishida already discussed a trade agreement between Mercosur and Japan in January during a telephone conversation with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Meanwhile, Uruguay's Livestock, Agriculture, and Fisheries Minister Fernando Mattos did not rule out an FTA with China: “Uruguay is a reliable country and this is recognized by the People's Republic of China, which has a strategic vision of its food sovereignty and must feed 1.4 billion people,” he said while recalling that “the last visit to China was a success and we cultivated many common values, we have built a relationship of trust.”

“Uruguay is ready to move forward with an FTA, and it will not affect Mercosur,” Mattos also argued. He also underscored Uruguay's positioning as “a safe and reliable supplier.”

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