On April 8, European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa announced a path forward for trade agreement negotiations between the EU and the trading bloc Mercosur. (Full members of Mercosur are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Associate members are Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Suriname.)
The first step will be an exchange of market access offers by the two parties, which is scheduled to take place in mid-May. EU-Mercosur trade talks were originally launched in 1999, but were suspended in 2004. Informal contacts aimed at reviving the negotiations began in 2009.
European farm organization Copa & Cogeca reacted quickly to the April 8 announcement, issuing a news release urging EU farm ministers to “reject outright an EU Commission offer on agriculture which includes sensitive agriculture products in the free trade talks with the Latin American trade bloc Mercosur, warning it will have a catastrophic impact on the EU agriculture sector, especially beef.” The Irish Farmers’ Association also called for the negotiations to be blocked.