EU and Mercosur exchange new market offers to seal FTA

Legislation | | MIC Customs Solutions |

The EU and Mercosur have exchanged market access offers as the two economic blocs attempt to generate momentum for their free trade talks.

The EU and the South American Mercosur trade bloc have exchanged market access offers in the latest attempt to seal a free trade agreement (FTA).

Talks over a potential free trade deal with Mercosur - which counts Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela among its full members - have been ongoing since 2000, but little progress has been made, with the last exchange of offers taking place in 2004.

Key details of the new package of offers include the exclusion of beef and ethanol as sensitive products, a concession that is intended to help assuage some of the economic concerns that have derailed the prospects of an agreement up until this point.

European demands to exclude agricultural exports has been a major stumbling block from the Mercosur perspective, while the EU has been frustrated by Mercosur's unwillingness to lower its substantial industrial tariffs.

However, the election of an EU-friendly government in Argentina last year has brought fresh momentum to the negotiations, leading to renewed optimism that a deal can be struck.

The EU is Mercosur's leading trading partner, while the South American bloc is ranked as the sixth most important export market for Europe.