The President of Paraguay sets December 6 as the end of the Brazilian presidency of Mercosur as the deadline for completing negotiations
Paraguayan President Santiago Peña said Monday (September 25, 2023) in Asuncion that he will not hold negotiations on a free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) after December 6, when his country assumes the rotating presidency of Mercosur. Instead of Brazil.
“I said to Lola To complete the negotiations, because if he does not conclude them, I will not continue them for the next six months“, Peña stated in an interview at the official residence of the Paraguayan presidency.
He stated that the Mercosur summit, which includes Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay, will be held on December 6. On that date, Brasilia will hand over the rotating presidency of the bloc to Assuncao.
“I will devote the next six months to concluding agreements with other regions of the world and I am sure that we will reach an agreement very quicklyThe President of Paraguay said. He pointed out the possibility of discussing agreements with Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
“The decision is in the hands of the European Union.”
Peña said that after 25 years of negotiations, it was time to “make a decision.”
“Paraguay has a very strong desire for integration, we are the most open country in Latin America, doing business with almost every country in the world“, he said. “But in this trade agreement, it is no longer a technical discussion, it is a political decision, and this is not on the part of Mercosur, but on the part of the European Union.”
In an interview with the British newspaper Financial TimesThe Paraguayan representative was categorical: “We either close before December 6th or we don’t close at all“.
This ultimatum is in addition to the ultimatum issued by Lula last June, which gave until the end of this year to close the agreement between Mercosur and the European Union. “If there’s anyone who can close this deal, it’s Lola. Whether it is this year or not, it will never be approvedPeña said.
Mercosur and the European Union agreed on the text of the agreement in 2019, but its conclusion was delayed due to the emergence of new demands.
The European Union introduced new environmental requirements in Message sent In March, which called for the inclusion of more environmental obligations and penalties for non-compliance, which was not well received in Brasilia.
Pressure has grown in the EU to obtain more environmental guarantees from Mercosur during the government’s tenure Jair Bolsonarowhich demobilized Brazil’s institutional apparatus to combat deforestation, but also sheltered the protectionist interests of European farmers, according to critics.
Furthermore, in April the European Union approved its own anti-deforestation law banning the import of products from deforested areas after December 2020, which according to Lula “Extraterritorial effects change the balance of agreement“.
The Brazilian president also opposes a clause in the agreement on government procurement, which would allow European companies to participate in public tenders in Mercosur countries on equal terms with local companies. According to the Brazilian, this would hurt small and medium businesses in Brazil.
Mercosur sent its response to the EU letter on September 13, and negotiators from the two blocs continue to seek an understanding.
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