Argentina and Germany have reaffirmed their commitment to “soon” close a free trade deal between the European Union (EU) and the Mercosur South American trade grouping.
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On the first stop of his three-nation tour of the region, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived in Buenos Aires on Saturday to meet Argentine President Alberto Fernández with the economy, Ukraine war, and the ratification of the free trade agreement topping the agenda.
“We wish not to drag the discussions and quickly reach an agreement and put it into operation,” Fernández said at a joint presser with Scholz in the Palacio de San Martín.
He said his government is confident that the trade pact had a “great potential for the EU economy and the Mercosur.”
Scholz agreed and said it was imperative to close the deal that the EU and Mercosur, made up of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, agreed to in principle in 2019 following 20 years of negotiations but is now awaiting parliamentary ratifications.
“It is important that we have a constructive spirit, we must work hand in hand to find a way forward and for the negotiations to come to fruition,” he said.
The Argentine president stressed that the return to power of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil had revived hopes to implement the trade pact.
Scholz is to meet Lula on Monday at the end of his three-day South American tour.
The Brazilian president has called for the bloc to seal the deal with the EU urgently.
“I think…we are in a better position to promote the agreement because there are more coincidences” between the two blocs, especially in climate matters, Fernández said.
He referred to Lula promising to overhaul the climate policies of the previous government led by Jair Bolsonaro.
Fernández said the agreement ratification “will make it possible to draw an axis that, in some way, promotes multilateralism in a polarized world.”
He criticized protectionism by some European countries that “makes it difficult for products from the Mercosur countries to access the European market.”
On his arrival in the Argentine capital, Scholz was received at the airport by Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero.
After paying homage to the national liberator José de San Martín, the German ruler met with Fernández and Minister of Economy Sergio Massa. ■