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EU-Mercosur agree to work at faster pace on trade deal, sources say – Reuters

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is welcomed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the day of the summit between the leaders of the European Union (EU) and Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in Brussels, Belgium July 17, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is welcomed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the day of the summit between the leaders of the European Union (EU) and Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in Brussels, Belgium July 17, 2023. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Belen Carreño, Reuters

BRASILIA
EnergiesNet.com 10 06 2023

European Union and Mercosur negotiators met in Brazil on Tuesday and Wednesday to try to reconcile their different positions and complete a trade deal that has been in the works for two decades, three diplomatic sources told Reuters.

The agreement has been on hold since 2019 largely due to European concerns over Amazon deforestation and Mercosur’s slow response to an EU addendum proposing environmental safeguards.

“We are in an intense phase of negotiations where we will try to merge both side’s documents,” one diplomat said.

After two days of talks, the negotiators agreed to continue working at a faster pace, a Brazilian official said.

“New rounds are scheduled on a weekly basis, through video conferences and in-person meetings, and then chief negotiators will meet in Brasilia on Oct. 30 to take stock of progress made,” a spokesperson for Brazil’s foreign ministry said.

The European Union had waited since March for Mercosur’s response to attach sustainability and climate change commitments to the deal struck in 2019 with the South American bloc formed by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Mercosur eventually presented a one-page counterproposal that was the basis for discussions this week in Brasilia, two European diplomats said, requesting anonymity.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticized the addendum after meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in June, but both leaders said they hoped the accord could be wrapped up by the end of the year.

Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has declined rapidly since Lula took office in January, preliminary government data show, reversing the surge in destruction under his right-wing predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazil, currently Mercosur’s president pro tempore, has not liked the environmental safeguards the EU added in a side letter.

“The addendum is full of impositions, but not a word on the cost of preserving this environmental asset,” Agriculture Minister Carlos Favaro told Reuters.

He said the EU was an important market for Brazil, but warned that other markets were opening up in Asia and the Middle East that were less restrictive.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle in Brasilia and Belen Carreño in Madrid; Editing by Alex Richardson and Grant McCool

reuters.com 10 05 2023

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