It now looks like Mercosur and the European Union will not reach a trade agreement by the October 31 deadline set for the Inter-Regional Association talks between the two economic blocks, reports Regis Arslanian, the director general for International Negotiations at Itamaraty.
Arslanian says the problem is that the latest offer by the EU is simply “a step backward.”
Brazil and its Mercosur partners, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, seek rapid access to new markets for more goods, explains Arslanian.
But the EU is offering less over a longer period of time. For example, at the moment Mercosur exports 95,000 tons of beef to the EU annually free of surtaxes.
The EU is offering to import 60,000 tons annually over a ten year period. The consensus in the Brazilian business community is that the offer is unacceptable, says Arslanian.
In spite of the difficulties, Mercosur and the EU continue to negotiate. Next Tuesday a new round of talks will take place at the Business Coalition center in Brasilia.
A three-day meeting, in August, between representatives of the Mercosur and the European Union to discuss the creation of a free trade area ended without an agreement.
The EU did not accept the comprehensive negotiation, covering various sectors and points, desired by the Southern Cone countries. They insisted upon discussing each item, step by step.
Moreover, the Europeans refused to make a new offer until the Mercosur first puts it offer on the table.
At the time, the EU’s Director of International Agricultural Affairs, João Pacheco said that pessimism was not called for. “We shall converse with our Ministers and see what they decide,” he declared.
There was also a feeling of frustration on the Mercosur side. The expectation of a week of intense debate ended up not coming true. The meeting terminated ahead of schedule, halfway through the third day.
For Ambassador Régis Arslanian, coordinator of negotiations for the Mercosur, the objective is for both sides to present their offers simultaneously.
In his evaluation, the Europeans are obtaining more advantages, for the time being. “The negotiations are unbalanced and need to be corrected,” Arslanian stated.
Translator: Allen Bennett
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