The European Union (EU) and the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) Friday finally agreed on a draft Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a negotiation which began in 2000.
EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement Expected Before August
Last May, both integration blocks maintained a dialogue in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in which progress was verified in several areas that had previously generated negotiation problems.
Among those were trade disciplines related to geographical indications, automobile industry and market access for beef, sugar and dairy products.
In 1995, the EU and Mercosur signed their Interregional Cooperation Framework Agreement, which was the world's first deal registered between two customs unions.
Since then, the EU has also signed bilateral agreements with Mercosur member countries, namely, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
In 2000, Mercosur and the EU began in Buenos Aires the negotiation for a free trade area. From the beginning, however, the agricultural sector was the subject of significant disagreements whose resolution required almost 30 negotiating rounds.
The EU-Mercosur FTA still faces a potentially difficult road to its full implementation. Both EU countries and the EU Parliament need to give their backing for the deal to be enforced.
France's President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that he would not sign any Mercosur-related trade agreement if Brazil withdrew from the Paris climate agreement.
In a conversation with Macron held in the G20 Summit in Osaka, however, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro said his country will continue in the multilateral agreement.
The EU has traditionally been the Mercosur's first trade and investment partner. Both blocks have a potential market of 773 million people and their bilateral trade amounts to more than US$91 billion.
Currently, Mercosur also includes Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname as its "associated states."