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Brazil seeks new free-trade deals with Mexico, EU

Staff Writer |
Brazil is looking to sign new free-trade agreements with Mexico and the European Union (EU) as a way to counter U.S. protectionism, a Brazilian official said.

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"We are also looking for commitments in such areas as government purchases and services among others," Marcos Pereira, Brazil's minister of industry, foreign trade and services, told the regional daily Folha de Sao Paulo.

Pereira said he would talk with Mexico's Economic Minister Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal during the three-day World Economic Forum on Latin America which opened on April 5 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Meetings of trade ministers from regional trade blocs, such as the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and the Pacific Alliance, will also provide opportunities for exploring free trade, said Pereira.

Currently, Brazil and Mexico have a limited free-trade agreement that covers some 800 products, which is expected to be expanded into a full-blown deal that applies to all 2,500 types of trade goods.

"Brazil is bent on swiftly advancing" towards such an agreement, said Pereira, and Mexico aims to diversify its trade markets given that a more protectionist government is in power in the United States.

However, the true impact of U.S. trade restrictions on Mexico will not be known until the two countries re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, a two-decade-old accord that U.S. President Donald Trump claims has unfairly benefited Mexico.

Brazil is also hoping to reach a free-trade agreement with the EU by the end of the year, though Mercosur's founding members Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay have been pursuing a deal with the European bloc for nearly two decades.

Diego Bonomo, executive manager of foreign trade for Brazil's National Confederation of Industry, underscored the impact the deal would have on the country's industrial sector, saying "it would be akin to our entry into Mercosur."

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