Negotiations for the free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur are coming to an end. According to the European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström
, they should be finalised before March 2018. There are two opposing blocks within the European Union, both of which defend positions that represent conflicting interests. For their part, the countries of South America request a revision of export fees to Europe.
A long-awaited commercial agreement
The ministerial conference of the WTO (World Trade Organisation
), which was held in Buenos Aires last December, enabled negotiations to progress significantly. In theory, both blocks are perfectly complementary: the South American powers posses considerable resources in the agroindustrial sector (soya, meat, sugar) and raw materials (iron), while Europe exhibits strong vitality in the technology, industry and services sectors.
The pursuit of commitment
Fears on both sides, along with conflicting interests, have hampered the approval of the commercial agreement. On the one hand, the Latin American industrialists fear the massive influx of European products and, on the other, the European farmers fear the influx of low-priced foodstuffs. Two points are at the centre of current negotiations, the volume of agricultural exports in Europe and ethanol. If we take the example of beef, the South Americans would like to be able to export 100,000 tonnes of meat to Europe, but Europe would only open the door to 70,000 tonnes (1% of annual consumption of this meat in Europe). The European farmers, led by the French, are concerned about this competition, which they deem unfair.
The end of negotiations is near
According to the statements made by the European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, negotiations will have to end this March. A second phase of ratification by the parliaments of each member state will be necessary in order to validate the agreement.