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Wednesday 23 January 2019

Europeans impeding EU-Mercosur trade deal -Brazil farm minister

A man cools cattle on a beached boat in the Amazon river, in the city of Manaus, Brazil, October 26, 2015. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
A man cools cattle on a beached boat in the Amazon river, in the city of Manaus, Brazil, October 26, 2015. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly

Jake Spring and Anthony Boadle

Brazil’s outgoing Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said on Wednesday that South American trade bloc Mercosur is ready to close a trade agreement with the European Union but it is being held up because the Europeans do not want to close a deal.

His remarks came after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier Wednesday it will be more difficult to reach a trade agreement with Mercosur under Brazil’s right-wing President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who assumes office on Jan. 1.

Bolsonaro, a conservative nationalist, has said he will favor bilateral relations over engagement in multilateral groups like Mercosur.

Officials from the two blocs met in September in what was to be a final push for a deal but talks broke down and the meeting ended without setting a date for further negotiations.

Talks are expected to resume only in 2019.

“Brazil made flexible what it could make flexible. They have access to our markets, the agriculture sector (was made flexible) even to the detriment of some domestic sectors,” Maggi said.

“Mercosur and the European Union don’t have an agreement not because Mercosur doesn’t want it, but because the European Union doesn’t want it,” he said.

A Brazilian diplomatic source told Reuters that major issues on automobiles and agriculture had been resolved, but rules of origin for products remained a sticking point.

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