EU/MERCOSUR : MERCOSUR STILL FINALISING FREE TRADE OFFER.
The Mercosur countries are striving to agree this week on the products to be excluded from their free trade offer.
All the offers are ready and just have to be combined: the four Mercosur countries working to draft a trade agreement with the European Union (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay)(1) compared their offers at a technical meeting last week in Montevideo, Uruguay. They still have to work out a common position this week ahead of a meeting with the EU in Brussels, on 21 March. Only then will the two parties set the date for the formal exchange of offers and the calendar for negotiations.
According to Mercosur diplomatic sources, the four countries already have a common proposal for services and the texts on public procurement are "almost ready".
The goal set with the European Union in 2010 is for each party to present a proposal covering "around" 90% of trade.
On the Mercosur side, the sectors to be defended are in industry and agri-foods. Motor vehicles, medical material, electronics and paper are sensitive products.
The EU's "sensitivities" are in the agriculture sector in relation to Argentinian beef, dairy products and wine, as well as Brazilin poultry and biodiesel, in particular. After losing the benefit of generalised preferences in January on these products, Mercosur would like to obtain outlets for its apples and oranges.
(1)Venezuela, which currently holds the rotating Mercosur presidency, is coordinating the work, but as a new member will not participate in the negotiations or the future liberalisation.