Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called for a “quick” and “forceful” response to the “threats” of sanctions from the European Union, EU, which limit the ratification of the trade agreement between the blocs.
The Brazilian president took advantage of his first speech in front of the Mercosur leaders during the LXII Summit of Heads of State that takes place in Puerto Iguazú, Argentina, on July 4 to affirm that in the bloc “we are not interested in agreements that condemn us to the eternal role of exporters of raw materials, mining and oil.”
The Latin American leader He assured that his vision is for the Mercosur bloc to advance in trade agreements with Canada, South Korea and Singapore, while aiming to strengthen trade with other South American countries.
“Strategic partners do not negotiate with mistrust and threats of sanctions,” warned Lula, who assumed the presidency of the South American bloc made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay until next December.
The leftist leader criticized the annexes regarding the environmental regulations requested by the European Union and which are the main obstacle to ratifying the agreement, signed in 2019 and negotiated for more than two decades.
The unfinished points of the agreement
In March, the EU sent Mercosur new environmental requirements in an effort to persuade European nations to ratify the agreement. “We look forward to your response, because it is our openness to listen to you, to hear where we need to improve,” said the president. of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen during his visit to Brazil in June.
“So that we can, effectively, before the end of the year, conclude the Mercosur agreement,” added the leader.
The Twenty-seven demand that any product that reaches the old continent and that derives from this agreement contributes to the deforestation of the Amazon, a demand that Lula once again called “unacceptable” and asked his South American partners for “a quick and forceful response.”
There are also disagreements regarding the obligations of transparency in state purchases, where the blocks will exchange information to respect the interests in the European market, as well as the funds for the productive sectors, which still do not have an application framework.
“It is inadmissible to give up the State’s purchasing power,” Lula commented on the government purchases section of the agreement with the community bloc.
Today Brazil assumes the presidency of Mercosul, with the commitment to work for the unity of South America and Latin America and the Caribbean, to resume the growth of the region, combat inequalities, promote inclusion, deepen democracy and guarantee ours… pic.twitter.com/AOsRl2vXGv
– Lula (@LulaOficial) July 4, 2023
“We want to discuss the agreement, but we don’t want an imposition on us. It is an agreement between colleagues, strategic partners. So it’s not like one strategic partner is going to put a sword to the head of another. We are going to sit down, put our differences aside and see what is good for Europeans and Latin Americans. For Mercosur and for Brazil,” said the president.
Lula da Silva promised to find a hotline to close the deal, callinghe head of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, who recently assumed the six-monthly presidency of the Council of the European Union.
“Tomorrow I will speak by phone with Pedro Sánchez, who now assumes the presidency of the EU. I will speak with him because he believes that it is important to continue discussing and that Spain help to achieve this agreement,” Lula commented.
Lacalle Pou: “Either we advance together or we will do it unilaterally”
For his part, the president of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou, expressed his concern about Mercosur’s lack of flexibility and advocated opening up to the world jointly, although if that is not possible, Uruguay would seek an agreement independently.
“The pitcher goes to the fountain so much that in the end it breaks. We are going to insist on carrying the pitcher because Uruguay’s approach to inside and outside Mercosur is not capricious,” said Lacalle Pou.
According to the Uruguayan president, in the bloc “we are not stupid, it is better to go together”, but “the immobility is what worries us”, he pointed out.
The president recalled his intention to start talks with China for a joint trade agreement, but regretted the lack of progress in that direction. “If we can’t do it that way, we’re going to do it unilaterally,” he added.
The trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur seeks to connect two markets with a total population of approximately 800 million people, representing a quarter of the world’s gross domestic product.
The agreement would stimulate an annual trade in goods and services worth 100,000 million dollars, by eliminating customs tariffs and facilitating the access of Mercosur agricultural exporters to the EU market, as well as the access of European manufacturers to the countries of the Mercosur.