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EU and Mercosur representatives continue discussions on trade deal

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EU and Mercosur representatives continue discussions on trade deal

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BF-AR254_CMDSOF_GR_20170605171655
Photo: Bloomberg/Getty

Today, the next round of trade negotiations between the European Union and the Latin American Mercosur bloc will commence in Brasilia. Despite committing to concluding a deal by December, they have been deadlocked over its exact terms.

The EU is eager to access public contracts in Latin America, particularly in the $170 billion Brazilian market. Mercosur, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, is eyeing the European agricultural sector in beef, sugar and derivatives like ethanol.

Yet, it is that sector which is resisting the deal, with French and Irish farmers concerned by proposals to raise the annual beef import quota to 70,000 tonnes. Meanwhile, Mercosur’s unity has come into question after its one-year suspension of Paraguay in 2012 and Venezuela’s indefinite suspension this year over human rights violations.

The negotiations represent a last-ditch effort to revive the agreement with uncertain prospects. Of the wavering European countries, Ireland is optimistic, but French President Emmanuel Macron says he is in no rush to conclude the deal.

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