Mercosur keen to strike free-trade deal with EU in 2017
Will the year 2017 witness the signing of a free-trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur? Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, whose turn it is to chair the South American trading organisation, thinks so, and is also convinced the deal will be struck in the second half of the year.
Negotiations for free trading between the EU and the South American area comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela (from 2012), have been ongoing since May 2010. The balance of trade between the two areas is currently virtually neutral, making the deal all the more interesting. Last year the EU exported €43.2 billion worth of goods towards Mercosur, which in turn exported €41.6 billion to Europe.
As far as textiles and apparel are concerned, in 2016 Europe imported goods worth €236 million from Mercosur, while trade in the opposite direction was worth €449 million. Additionally, the EU is a major investor in the Mercosur area, to the tune of €384 billion in 2014. Mercosur countries too have been investing generously in Europe: in the same year they dished out €115 billion.
The willingness to push forward with negotiations for closer trading ties with Europe is also a reflection of the tensions between the USA and Mercosur, especially Argentina. "We could hardly make matters any worse," admitted the Argentinian President, who indicated he wishes to meet Donald Trump next month.
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