By Marieta Cazarré
After a number of talks were held Thursday in Brussels, Mercosur ministers and European commissioners for trade and agriculture were still unable to reach a consensus.
As a result, another round of high-level negotiations on the terms for an agreement between the South American bloc and the European Union (EU) was scheduled to take place a month from now in Montevideo, Uruguay. Until then, technical meetings are between the two sides are to continue.
The new series of meetings were scheduled in a bid to advance the over-20-year-old negotiations.
In attendance representing Brazil in the two days of meetings this week were Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes, and Marcos Jorge, Minister for Industry, Foreign Trade, and Services.
European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said significant progress has been made in the negotiations. “We’re making good strides, but we’re addressing very difficult issues and there’s still a long list we have to work on.”
On Tuesday (17), representatives from Brazil’s and Germany’s industrial sectors signed a charter arguing for the conclusion of the trade accord, saying political conditions are favorable. The document was signed by the National Industry Federation of Brazil (CNI), the German Industry Federation (BDI), and by the German Industry Council for Latin America (LADW).
In the meetings, the commercial agreements between the two blocs cover beef, sugar, and ethanol. More recently, a request by the EU to cut the tariffs on cars produced in Mercosur member countries was brought under discussion.
No time to lose for Brazil’s industry
In a note, CNI says “the European Union failed to show the necessary flexibility, and reiterated old demands. Europeans are missing a strategic opportunity in a moment where protectionist is gaining momentum across the world,” said Director Carlos Abijaodi.
The deal is described by CNI as the most important in the history of Brazil. The confederation added that the sector is to continue following the agenda with such markets as Canada, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA, a bloc formed by Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland), Japan, and Mexico, as well as South America itself.
The confederation urges ministers from both blocs to establish clear guidelines and a schedule for the conclusion of a political deal in 2018. A political deal is believed to be a definitive step towards forging of a free-trade agreement, and would only leave technical adjustments to be made.
* With information from Agência Brasil and Agencia EFE