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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – A bilateral commercial agreement between Mercosur partners and the European Union is a priority for Brazil and could be signed by 2016, according to Brazil’s Minister on Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Armando Monteiro.

Minister Monteiro says EU-Mercosur agreement is close to being signed
Minister Armando Monteiro says EU-Mercosur agreement is close to being signed, photo by Marcelo Camargo/Agencia Brasil.

“Brazil is repositioning its commercial policies. We have launched the National Export Plan, which has as one of its objectives to include the country in the international network of trade and investment agreements,” said Monteiro on Monday during a conference in São Paulo with members of European trade chambers.

“We consider that the main objective (for the export plan) is the conclusion an agreement between Mercosur and the European Union,” he added.

According to Monteiro the South American trade group, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela is willing to start the trade process immediately.

The bloc has been negotiating a trade accord to expand its imports and exports with the EU for the past fifteen years. The agreement calls for lifting of some tariff barriers and the standardization of rules which would ease the integration of productive processes between the two blocs.

“The perspective of a preferential trade agreement between our regional blocs offer excellent opportunities. We understand that this step is essential for our insertion process in the global trade chains and for a more effective integration of the international trade currents,” Monteiro told a group of 140 executives at the conference.

According to data from the European Commission the EU is Mercosur’s largest trading partner. In 2013 it accounted for twenty percent of Mercosur’s total trade. EU-Mercosur trade in 2013 was €$110 billion.

Mercosur’s biggest exports to the EU are agricultural products (approximately 43 perncet of total exports) and raw materials, while the EU exports mostly manufactured products such as machinery and transport equipment, and chemical to Mercosur members.

The EU is also the biggest foreign investor in the region. The latest data by the European Commission registers that in 2012 foreign direct investments by EU members to Mercosur partners surpassed €$280 billion in 2012 compared to €$130 billion in 2000.

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