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ECONOMY | 08-05-2019 13:39

Mercosur and EU very close to agreeing free-trade deal, says Brazilian official

"We’ve never been so close," Brazil’s Foreign Trade Secretary Lucas Ferraz tells Bloomberg. Deal could be made as early as next week, or more likely by the end of June.

The European Union and the Mercosur regional trade bloc will likely close a trade agreement in coming weeks or months, Brazil’s Foreign Trade Secretary Lucas Ferraz said in an interview with Bloomberg news today.

"We’ve never been so close," Ferraz told the outlet.

"We’ve advanced more in four months than in 20 years," he added.

A successful agreement would create one of the world’s largest free trade pacts and fly in the face of rising trade tensions between the United States and China. Talks between the two blocs have dragged on for over two decades and, as recently as in January, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that France’s resistance to Brazilian demands on farm goods caused an impasse.

France is no longer a stumbling block, Ferraz said in reference to previous disagreements over plans to give South American farm products increased access to the European market. Instead, it is Brazil that still needs to work out a few remaining technicalities, Ferraz said.

In the most optimistic scenario, an accord in principle could be reached as early as next week during a round of talks in Buenos Aires. If not, the agreement may come at the following gathering, possibly in June.

The leaders of Mercosur, which is made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay earlier this year said they would embark on a plan to cut red tape and eliminate a series of exemptions that undermined the effectiveness of the customs union’s common external tariff.

- TIMES/BLOOMBERG

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