The European Union (EU) and the Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay) reached an agreement on a free trade deal on Friday after 20 years of negotiation. The agreement was announced by representatives of Argentina and Brazil and later confirmed by the president of the European Commission (EC), Jean-Claude Juncker, who has described it as “historic”.
“The trade agreement with Mercosur made! A historical moment. In the midst of international trade tensions, we are sending a strong signal that we support standards-based trade, “Juncker wrote on Twitter. He added that it is the “largest trade agreement” that the EU has closed in its history and considered it a “positive” result for the environment and consumers.
Cecilia Malmstrom said that the deal, which will create a market of 780 million people, “will save European companies over €4 billion in duties at the border – four times as much as our deal with Japan – whilst giving them a head start against competitors from elsewhere in the world.”
Under the deal, EU exporters can expect to receive legal guarantees that their products will be protected from trademark infringement and the Geographical Indications 357 high-quality European food and drink products, like Parma ham and Champagne, will be respected. In return South American farmers will get greater access to the European market for their agricultural products, especially beef.
While it has been welcomed in Brussels and South American capitals, farmers in some EU Member States have been protesting in recent months against the agreement.
It was also criticised in an open letter by 340 European and South American NGOs, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. The organisations condemned “the deterioration of human rights and the ecological situation in Brazil” since the inauguration in January of far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. The agreement negotiated by the Commission must now be approved by the 28 Member States, before being voted on in the European Parliament.