Mapping out the negotiations for an EU-Mercosur free trade agreement is the main purpose of the meeting of EU and Mercosur Trade Negotiator's taking place in Brussels on 12 November 2003 in Brussels. EU Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten and EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy will take stock with their Mercosur counterparts of what has achieved since July 2002 when they last met. They will also discuss an ambitious and detailed programme of work for the last phase of the negotiations of this region-to-region agreement.
The Mercosur will be headed by the Presidency pro-tempore, the Uruguayan Foreign Minister Mr. Operti. Other participants include Mr. Redrado, Argentinean Secretary of Trade, Messrs. Amorim and Furlan, Brazilian Foreign and Trade Ministers respectively as well as Ms. Rachid de Cowles, Paraguayan Foreign Minister.
During the meeting Ministers will take stock of the progress made in the bi-regional negotiations since the adoption of the Rio Programme in July 2002. They will exchange views on the on-going WTO talks under the Doha Development Agenda and will discuss an ambitious programme of work to map the final phase of the negotiations.
The EU and Mercosur started talks to conclude an Association Agreement in June 1999. Since then ten rounds of negotiations have taken place. The agreement comprises three chapters: political, co-operation and trade and economic. During the 7th Round of negotiations in April 2002 the political and co-operation chapters were virtually finalised. The results were presented at the European Union/Latin America Summit in Madrid on 17 May 2002.
At the Ministerial meeting which took place in Rio de Janeiro Brazil in July 2002, both parties adopted a work-programme mapping out the negotiations for the trade chapter of the Association Agreement aimed at creating a bi-regional free trade area. Since then three further negotiating rounds have been held in Brasilia (November 2002), Brussels (March 2003) and Asunción (June 2003). In the Rio programme both parties agreed to hold a Trade Negotiators Meeting in the second half of 2003 to roadmap the final phase of the negotiations, which takes place in Brussels on 12 November.
The EU is Mercosur's main trading partner accounting for about 25% of the bloc's total trade. The EU absorbs around half of the total Mercosur's exports of agricultural products. Trade between the EU and Mercosur amounted to around € 40 bio in 2002. Between 1980 and 2002 EU imports from Mercosur grew by 5% on average every year.