Negotiations between the European Union and the Mercosur will continue on Friday. (Photo via European Commission Audiovisual Service / Jennifer Jacquemart)

Encouraged by a “constructive” round of ministerial talks yesterday, negotiations between the European Union and the Mercosur in search of a trade deal will continue in Brussels on Friday at the chief negotiator level.

Yesterday Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie and his Mercosur counterparts Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes (Brazil), Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa (Uruguay), Foreign Minister Elodio Loizaga (Paraguay) sat down with European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan to follow up on negotiations between the two trade blocs.

The ministerial meeting came soon after the bilateral meeting between President Mauricio Macri and French President Emmanuel Macron last week, after which it was agreed that technical negotiations were necessary to undo some of the stumbling blocks. Beef exports from the Mercosur have been particularly problematic, and Macron has issued warnings about the “red lines” that he sees with regards to any trade deal with the Mercosur.

European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström speaking to the Argentine delegation yesterday in Brussels. (Photo via European Commission Audivisual Service / Jennifer Jacquemart)

 

Speaking today about the ongoing discussions, Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the European Commission  in charge of Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, briefly noted that in light of the “constructive” discussions that had taken place yesterday chief negotiators would be meeting on Friday to “take the process further.

A European Commission source told The Bubble that “at this stage, for the negotiations to move on, both sides should make an effort to meet each other’s expectations, while recognising each other’s sensitivities.” According to the same source the EU has expressed it is willing to make such an effort.

In the past, sensitivities have included beef and bioethanol for the EU and industry and services for the Mercosur countries.

EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan (left) shakes hands with Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa (Photo via European Commission Audiovisual Service / Jennifer Jacquemart)
EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan (left) shakes hands with Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa (Photo via European Commission Audiovisual Service / Jennifer Jacquemart)

 

Further to Macri’s championing of a deal during his recent European tour, negotiations have been boosted by shared interest in Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Asunción and Brasilia for the negotiations to come to fruition. Presidential elections this year in Paraguay and Brazil have given negotiators a reason to quicken the pace as well.

Negotiations accelerated in 2017 after years of deadlock but an agreement was ultimately not signed at the end of last year as had originally been sought.

Any deal would need to be ratified by the legislative branches of the 28 EU member states and all four founding members of the Mercosur in order to come into effect.

According to Télam, EU exports to the Mercosur amounted to US $52 billion in goods in 2016 and US $22 billion in services in 2015. In 2016 Mercosur exported US $43.4 billion in goods and European Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the region totaled €167 billion.