By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Government representatives from the Mercosur bloc are meeting today (Monday, December 21st) in Asuncion, Paraguay to discuss agreements between the bloc and the European Union and extending talks with the Pacific Alliance.
The Presidents of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay are expected to meet for the 49th Mercosur Summit to discuss furthering trade talks with other regional blocs especially the European Union. The leader of the fifth member of the bloc, Venezuela, President, Nicolas Maduro, has not confirmed his presence.
Analysts say that trade talks this year are expected to be more productive, due to the presence of new Argentinian president, Mauricio Macri. According to specialists Argentina had always been a critical voice in the European Union – Mercosur trade talks.
“Cristina Kirchner (former Argentina president) was reluctant in relation to the agreement. With Macri this agenda should advance and include agriculture, a very sensitive issue for Europe,” Luis Fernando Ayerbe, coordinator of the Economic and International Institute at Sao Paulo State University (Unesp) told Agencia Brasil.
Trade talks between the European Union and Mercosur started at the end of the 1990s but advanced slowly. In 1999 a Summit between the two blocs was held in Rio de Janeiro, but talks did not progress.
Political analysts will also be watching for further comments by Argentina’s Macri about Venezuela’s membership in the bloc. During his presidential campaign, Macri defended suspending Venezuela from the Mercosur, noting that the country did not comply with the democratic clause in the bloc agreement.
His position, however, may have been weakened, according to analysts, since Venezuela recently held parliamentary elections, in which Maduro’s party lost many representatives in the legislature and the electoral process was seen as transparent.