Spain Pushes for Swift Conclusion of Mercosur Trade Deal Talks, France Advocates for More Time

SPAIN: European trade ministers convened in Spain on Friday to address the prolonged negotiations of an EU-Mercosur free trade agreement, with France and Spain disagreeing on the timeline for clinching the deal, as stated by officials from both nations.

Madrid considers securing the long-awaited pact with the South American members of the bloc—Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay—as a “priority objective” for the European Union, while Spain currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency until year-end.

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Historically, France has shown hesitation towards free trade agreements and is advocating for a cautious approach, emphasising the importance of avoiding rushed negotiations and continuing the talks.

“We need more time to have this agreement to be sure that we can respond to the Mercosur questions and so that we can have a guarantee on the environmental standards that we need. It is important that we take the time,” Olivier Becht, French Trade Minister, told journalists before the EU meeting on Friday.

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The agreement has been stalled since 2019, primarily because of European apprehensions regarding Amazon deforestation and Mercosur’s sluggish reaction to an EU proposal for environmental protections.

Spanish Trade Minister Hector Gomez stated, “Negotiations are weekly… the dialogue is permanent,” and he viewed it as a good thing that just the so-called “additional instrument” is being considered and that the treaty’s primary text has not been reopened for amendment.

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The European Union had been waiting since March for Mercosur’s response to include sustainability and climate change pledges. Eventually, Mercosur submitted a concise one-page counterproposal, which served as the foundation for recent face-to-face meetings in Brasilia.

Prior to the meeting’s commencement in the eastern city of Valencia, numerous environmental activists gathered to call for transparency in the negotiations and to avoid potential climate change consequences arising from expanded exports in a free trade agreement.

Also Read: Spain’s Authorities Save over 400 Animals from Illicit Trading Network

Originally posted 2023-10-21 11:00:32.