Author: Gustavo Ribeiro
Publish date: 2023-05-24 16:29:47
Mauro Vieira, Brazil’s foreign minister, on Wednesday told lawmakers that the ratification before the end of this year of the free-trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur remains a possibility, pending negotiations.
“Could the agreement be signed this year? It could. We are negotiating, we are preparing a counter-proposal fitting to the national interest,” Mr. Vieira said at a House Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
As The Brazilian Report showed in the May 17 edition of our Brazil Daily newsletter, a delegation of European Parliament lawmakers visited Brasília last week to push the case for the agreement between the EU and Mercosur, the trade alliance grouping Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
The two blocs reached an agreement in principle in 2019, but EU members have delayed signing off on a final text as agricultural lobbies in countries such as France have groused about their South American competitors.
Earlier this month, Mr. Vieira had already told Brazilian senators that the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva administration is working to ensure a “balanced” agreement, and that its Mercosur partners are working on a consensual position to present a counter-proposal to the EU. However, he had not previously made indications that the agreement could be concluded this year.
EU lawmaker Herbert Dorfmann of Italy told Brazilian lawmakers last week there is a “small window” to close the deal, as elections for the European Parliament will be held in 2024, making it difficult to hold a big vote next year.
Mr. Vieira once again compared the conditions presented by EU negotiators to Mercosur with those offered to Canada — which, he argues, was offered a more “generous” proposal. The proposed rules for the Mercosur deal would require voluntary environmental commitments made under the 2015 Paris Agreement to be enforced by trade retaliations.
Brazil will take over the rotating presidency of Mercosur in July and take charge of the negotiations. That same month, there will be an EU-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit of heads of state and government in Brussels, which Mr. Vieira says will be an opportunity for Mercosur leaders to present their counter-proposal.