LatinNews Daily - 25 January 2024

In brief: Mercosur meeting urges conclusion of EU FTA deal

*The foreign ministers of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Bolivia, have highlighted the need to conclude a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU) as soon as possible. The need to conclude the deal, negotiations regarding which have been dragging on for over two decades, was listed in a joint statement following a meeting hosted by Paraguay – the first since it took over the pro tempore presidency of the bloc in December. The meeting was attended by the foreign ministers of Mercosur members: Rubén Ramírez Lezcano (Paraguay), Diana Mondino (Argentina), Mauro Vieira (Brazil), Omar Paganini (Uruguay), and Celinda Sosa (Bolivia). The statement also highlights as a priority, the pursuit of a trade deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and underlines the role of “logistics and multimodal transport for the competitivity of the bloc’s foreign trade”. Linked to this it referenced the importance of the Santa Cruz de la Sierra agreement on use of the Paraguay-Paraná waterway, which is for Paraguayan merchandise exports – and the subject of a current dispute between Argentina and Paraguay over a toll imposed on it by Argentina. On the sidelines of the Mercosur meeting, Ramírez and Mondino met and agreed to hold a meeting over the next few weeks to analyse a technical report which will be presented by a joint working group with the aim of coming up with a definitive solution to the dispute.

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