Canada and the Mercosur have agreed to formally launch trade negotiations, with the first round kicking off as soon as March 20 in Ottawa.
Following exploratory talks and consultations, Canadian International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne traveled to Asunción and met with Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie, Paraguayan Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga, Brazil’s Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes and Minister of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services Marcos Jorge de Lima, and Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa to agree to launch formal negotiations. The agreement was formally signed today.
Champagne had previously been in Chile to sign the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), that includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The Mercosur foreign ministers were meeting to confer after another round of Mercosur-European Union negotiations failed to achieve a breakthrough.
“With a combined population of 260 million and a GDP of over US $3 trillion, the Mercosur member countries of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay offer Canada an opportunity to deliver on its ambitious and diversified trade agenda with like-minded and fast-growing markets” said Champagne.
“Canada is a relevant country in the world, and it has an extraordinarily significant level of trade, and for the Mercosur it is a potential partner, an attractive country to look for agreement and to generate a link that will have to be creative in some sectors because we are both efficient producers in similar areas,” said Faurie.
“We have the opportunity to access capital goods that are fundamental to the development of our economy, so we will have to strike a balanced agreement.”
Energy, the extractive industries, infrastructure, environment, telecommunications, distribution and logistics, transportation and tourism were listed in a press release by the Office of the Canadian Minister of International Trade as Canadian sectors that could benefit from improved access to the Mercosur market.
The Uruguayan Foreign Ministry noted that the terms of the negotiations “will include topics like the inclusion of women in international trade, the creation of mechanisms that allow small and medium-sized businesses to access international markets, the recognition of the importance of environmental issues and their links to trade agreement as well as the protection of labor norms.”
Trade in goods and services, rules of origin, dispute settlement mechanisms, government procurement, include trade, investment and trade facilitation, among other topics, will be on the table for negotiations.
The trade volume between Mercosur and Canada in 2017 was roughly US $6.89 billion.