By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The completion of the agreement between the European Union and Mercosur nations, which has been negotiated for almost twenty years, has been postponed once again, now to the beginning of next year, according to Mercosur and EU officials, who are meeting in Buenos Aires this week.
Until last week Mercosur member countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), hoped to announce the conclusion of the trade deal but according to a source interviewed by Reuters European Union officials are still weary of some trade terms.
“The EU said it was not in a position to reciprocate and would be better able to respond next year,” the source close to the negotiations told Reuters.
According to EU officials, the bloc needs time to convince the agricultural sector, which has been strongly resisting opening up its markets to the South American countries. Negotiators have signaled that the greatest resistance comes from trade agreements in the areas of ethanol and beef.
On Monday, Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes and his Argentine counterpart, Minister Jorge Faurie told reporters that everything was being done to close the agreement ‘as soon as possible’.
According to the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (APEX) Brazil is the main destination for European investments in Latin America and the second largest destination of European resources outside Europe. On the other hand, almost seventy percent of investments made in Europe by Latin American countries come Brazil.
“The results are impressive and confirm that the relationship between Brazil and Europe is old and solid,” said APEX president, Roberto Jaguaribe last week before this latest round of negotiations in Argentina.
Talks between Mercosur and the European Union countries started in the 1990s as an alternative to the U.S.’s FTAA project, which sought to integrate the countries of the Americas.