July 4 () –
The Mercosur countries –Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay– have expressed their concern on Tuesday about the possible adoption of measures by the EU that could “unilaterally” alter the commitments acquired in the trade agreement between the two blocs, within a political tension that complicates the ratification of a text that began to be negotiated in 1999 and on which there has been an agreement in principle since 2019.
The leaders of the four countries have met in the Argentine town of Puerto Iguazú, from which forceful warning messages have been sent to the EU, also reflected in the final communiqué. In said text, they reiterate the bloc’s commitment to move towards the “prompt signing” of the association agreement for the “benefit of all parties”, but at the same time they believe that there are reasons for “concern”.
Specifically, they view with suspicion “the evolution of legislative initiatives that could lead to restrictive trade measures that affect agricultural exports” of the South American countries and that “unilaterally alter the balance of the terms” of the agreement. In Mercosur, for example, an additional instrument proposed by the EU related to environmental issues is being questioned and which they fear could open the door to the imposition of trade limits and even sanctions.
The president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is precisely assuming the rotating presidency of the bloc, has been blunt: “The additional instrument presented by the European Union in March of this year is unacceptable.” “Strategic partners do not negotiate based on mistrust and the threat of sanctions,” he added, confident that there could be a “quick and forceful” response from Mercosur.
The Brazilian president has stressed his willingness to conclude the negotiations during his tenure as leader of the group, but has made it clear that he does not want the South American countries to be relegated “to the eternal role of exporters of raw materials, minerals and oil.”
The president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, has also advocated turning the page on this “condemnation”, by virtue of which other countries are the ones who take advantage of the raw materials to later resell “at exorbitant prices”, and has agreed that the EU cannot adopt “unilateral” measures that contravene the supposed common interest.
Thus, he has alluded to “environmental decisions” that “change the rules” of the commitment signed in 2019, which according to him remains blocked due to “internal conflicts” within the European Union. Fernández still hopes to achieve “balanced results”, according to a series of statements collected by the Télam news agency.
For his part, the President of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou, has asked his counterparts to remove the obstacles to be able to conclude the agreement with the EU and to really build a situation of “confidence” between the two trading blocs. “I know that President Lula is going to make an effort to finalize the agreement with the European Union. I ask him to please be the generator of a little optimism in my already abundant pessimism about this agreement”, he commented.
In his opinion, it is not logical that a text is being negotiated for 25 years because, in that time, great changes have taken place in the modern world. For this reason, he has called on his peers to give credibility to the commercial block they represent and, knowing the things they have for and against, close an agreement.