Taking advantage of high-level meetings in Madrid, the European Union and the Mercosur trading bloc are ready to attempt to breathe new life into a proposed trade agreement after a break of six years.
But resuscitating negotiations for the proposed trade accord hit a stumbling block even before the formal announcement was made at the European Union-Latin American Countries Summit in Madrid. Differences over agricultural policies, which brought talks to a halt in 2004, resurfaced even before sitting down at the negotiating table.
France, along with nine other countries, formally protested the restart of talks between the 27 EU member countries and the Mercosur--Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. "The strategic agricultural interests of the European Union are clearly at stake;' said a statement from the 10 nations issued on the eve of the May 17-19 summit.
In an earlier interview with Latin Trade, Anne-Marie Idrac, France's secretary of state for foreign trade, expressed concern over the proposed talks. "The consequences will be serious, especially for meat and beef producers in Europe," warned Idrac, who is promoting bilateral trade with the member nations of the bloc (see page 14).
Success or failure of trade and investment accords of ten rest on agricultural interests. Brazil and Argentina are among the largest beef-producing nations in the world and their beef exports to the EU fall under...