EU, Mercosur to resume trade talks


May 17, 2010

The European Union and the South American trade bloc known as Mercosur agreed Monday to resurrect stalled talks on reaching an ambitious free trade agreement, Spain said Monday.

The previous negotiations deadlocked in 2004 amid disagreement over tariffs protecting European agriculture from exports out of Mercosur, which is dominated by Brazil. The other members are Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said the agreement to resume the talks was reached at a summit between the European Union and countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Spanish officials say such an accord would mean 5 billion euros a year in profits for the two sides together.

However, France and other EU countries with strong agricultural sectors are wary of a resumption of the talks, fearing their farmers will end up being hurt, officials said.

The goal is to reach a deal covering 95 percent of exports from both sides, Spanish officials said. They have given themselves ten years to reach a deal.

Such an accord has been a key goal of Spain, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

The summit here lasts through Wednesday, and during it the EU is also expected to sign trade accords with Peru, Colombia and Central America.