The European Union and Mercosur’s association agreement has to go “beyond tariffs and subsidies,” said Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva addressing businessmen from Brazil and a visiting Italian delegation headed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
On Tuesday, in Buenos Aires, Mercosur and EU resumed trade and cooperation talks, which had been stalled for years, waiting for a framework agreement on trade liberalization from the World Trade Organization.
“The new round of discussions must go beyond tariffs and subsidies; we’re highlighting the compromise of both blocs to gain competitiveness and multiply investment opportunities,” Lula told the audience of business people in reference to the “great amount of opportunities” that are to open up for Brazil with the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The first round of talks through Friday is aimed at hammering out organizational questions and formulating a roadmap for the development of a long-planned association between the regions, according to the EU delegation in Buenos Aires.
Past efforts have come up against disagreements on agriculture issues, with European farmers and politicians fearing a flood of cheap beef and poultry imports from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. The talks began in 1999 broke off in 2004.
In May, both sides agreed on the sidelines of an EU-Latin American summit in Madrid to resume talks.
At least ten of the 27 EU members, headed by France have questioned the opportunity of holding talks with Mercosur to further liberalize trade, particularly in agriculture, when, highly subsidized European farmers are hardly making ends meet.