Saturday

4th Feb 2023

EU-Latin America trade talks move to 'endgame'

  • Commission vice president Katainen said he was 'hopeful' about the trade talks (Photo: European Commission)

Chief negotiators from the EU and the Mercosur countries of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay will continue discussions on Friday (2 February) after top officials meeting in Brussels on Tuesday (30 January) "moved forward" in trade talks between the two blocs.

"We are in the end game with Mercosur countries," Jyrki Katainen, EU Commission vice president said on Wednesday.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Agriculture is a major hurdle in talks with the Mercosur countries (Photo: European Milk Board)

"Yesterday things moved forward, and [we] expect Mercosur countries to come back and give their view on how to finalise the negotiations," he told reporters after trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem and agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan briefed fellow commissioners on the state of play of negotiations.

"I'm pretty hopefully at the moment," Katainen added.

The EU and the four Latin American countries are in a final push for reaching a trade deal before election campaign season starts in Brazil.

The EU has been working to secure trade deals as a way to boost the economy and create jobs after the bruising economic crisis, and to prop up multilateralism following US president Donald Trump's turn to protectionism.

EU officials have been stressing the deal's political and strategic importance in strengthening the EU's position in world trade and securing European standards around the world.

EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker stopped by a dinner for the Mercosur ministers on Monday evening - emphasising the importance of the deal, and the political capital invested in it by the EU.

Mercosur countries, which have an annual GDP of €2.2 trillion, would enter into their first trade deal if they sign with the EU.

Wednesday's meeting was designed to give a political nudge to the talks, into the final stages.

No offer was tabled by the EU during the meeting, a commission source said.

"At this stage, for the negotiations to move on, both sides should make an effort to meet each other's expectations, while recognising each other's sensitivities. The EU signalled its disposition to do this effort," the source added.

Technical details

Discussions now move to a technical level. The EU has signalled its willingness to move on the issues important for Mercosur and are expecting for them to move as well to reach a compromise. If Friday's meeting does not bring a breakthrough, talks will move back to political level.

A key hurdle is agriculture, where Mercosur countries want the EU to allow more beef in the bloc under the reduced tariff than the originally proposed 70,000 metric tonnes.

The EU wants Mercosur countries to open their markets more significantly to dairy products, cars and car parts, and to have access to maritime services.

"In the endgame there are only the most difficult issues left," Katainen said.

"You have to calibrate how much to offer and where are the red lines, it is always difficult, but if the political will is strong, as it is at the moment, I'm sure that we can get this exercise to the goal," he told reporters.

EU in push to seal Latin American trade deal

In a race against the clock, EU commissioners and Mercosur ministers meet in Brussels to make concessions on beef, cheese and cars in preparation for an "endgame" in trade talks, ahead of Brazil's elections.

Commission defends Mercosur trade deal

EU commissioners defended a far-reaching free trade agreement between the EU and four Latin American countries, against critics who fear it will damage European farmers' livelihoods and the global environment.

Analysis

Why Brazil's election matters to Brussels

Jair Bolsonaro could render the EU's climate action meaningless, if the newly elected leader of Latin America's biggest country follows through with plans to allow massive deforestation.

Opinion

More money, more problems in EU answer to US green subsidies

Industrial energy-intense sectors, outside Germany and France, will not move to the US. They will go bust, as they cannot compete in a fragmented single market. So to save industry in two member states, we will kill the rest?

Latest News

  1. Greece faces possible court over 'prison-like' EU-funded migration centres
  2. How the centre-right can take on hard-right and win big in 2024
  3. Top EU officials show Ukraine solidarity on risky trip
  4. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  5. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  6. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  7. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  8. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  4. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  6. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us