Mercosur officially begins this Friday trade negotiations with the European Free Trade Association, EFTA, which brings together those countries that do not belong to the European Union, EU, that is Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, and that in a couple of years could see the UK, negotiating Brexit, joining.
Mercosur representatives will be meeting their European Union counterparts this week, beginning Monday, in Brussels in anticipation of another round of trade and cooperation discussions scheduled for March in Buenos Aires. Mercosur members, under the coordination of Argentina, which currently holds the group's chair are attending with a common position reached after several days of videoconferences.
The foreign ministers of Mercosur founding members will adopt a common position regarding the current disarray of the group following on Venezuela's unilateral attitudes said Paraguayan economic affairs and integration deputy minister Rigoberto Gauto.
Mercosur founding countries national coordinators met on Tuesday in Montevideo and admitted that the block is going through an emergency situation because of the presidential acephaly, but agreed on proposals to overcome the challenge and in a business as usual spirit, are readying for a meeting with the EU on trade negotiations and on the Action Plan to advance closer links with the Pacific Alliance.
The coordinators of Mercosur founding members will decide next 23 August at a meeting in Montevideo on the legal measures to be applied on Venezuela, which self proclaimed itself the presidency of the group and is also questioned for not complying with the rules and regulations to be incorporated to the group. In that case Venezuela could lose its full member status.
Mercosur founding members coordinators who met in Montevideo on Thursday to address the controversy over the presidency of the group and the self proclamation to the post by Venezuela, did finally reach some conclusions, but the most significant seems to be that they continue to disagree on the steps to follow and are prepared for another round of talks.
Mercosur members have identified over eighty non tariff barriers currently effective in intra-trade and have agreed on their gradual elimination, a proposal to be considered by the group's presidential summit when they meet Monday in Asuncion, Paraguay.
Mercosur is waiting for the European Union to decide when to begin the exchange of tariff-reduction proposals with the purpose of reaching an encompassing trade and cooperation agreement, despite France's objections to the move, said Rigoberto Gauto, Paraguay's deputy foreign minister. Paraguay currently holds the Mercosur chair and leads negotiations with Brussels.
Technical delegates from Mercosur and the European Union are holding a round of talks in Asunción to consider 'levels of ambition' for the coming exchange of tariff proposals with the purpose of reaching a much delayed free trade agreement, said Paraguayan Deputy Economic Relations minister, Rigoberto Gauto.
Technical teams from Mercosur country members are scheduled to meet next Tuesday in Paraguay to iron out the final proposal to be presented by the group to the European Union for the long delayed trade and cooperation agreement. The meeting in Asunción will be headed by Rigoberto Gauto, who is currently the Mercosur coordinator since Paraguay holds this half year the rotating chair.