The European Union and Mercosur reached a political agreement for an ambitious, balanced and comprehensive trade agreement.
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The new trade framework will consolidate a strategic political and economic partnership and create significant opportunities for sustainable growth on both sides, while respecting the environment and preserving interests of EU consumers and sensitive economic sectors.
The EU is the first major partner to strike a trade pact with Mercosur, a bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil Paraguay and Uruguay.
The agreement concluded will cover a population of 780 million and cement the close political and economic relations between the EU and Mercosur countries.
It represents a clear commitment from both regions to rules based international trade and will give European companies an important head start into a market with an enormous economic potential.
It will anchor important economic reforms and modernisation undergoing in Mercosur countries.
The agreement upholds the highest standards of food safety and consumer protection, as well as the precautionary principle for food safety and environmental rules and contains specific commitments on labour rights and environmental protection, including the implementation of the Paris climate agreement and related enforcement rules.
The EU-Mercosur region-to-region agreement will remove the majority of tariffs on EU exports to Mercosur, making EU companies more competitive by saving them €4 billion worth of duties per year.
As regards EU industrial sectors, this will help boost exports of EU products that have so far been facing high and sometimes prohibitive tariffs.
Those include cars (tariff of 35%), car parts (14-18%), machinery (14-20%), chemicals (up to 18%), pharmaceuticals (up to 14%), clothing and footwear (35%) or knitted fabrics (26%).
The EU agri-food sector will benefit from slashing existing Mercosur high tariffs on EU export products, chocolates and confectionery (20%), wines (27%), spirits (20 to 35%), and soft drinks (20 to 35%).
The agreement will also provide duty-free access subject to quotas for EU dairy products (currently 28% tariff), notably for cheeses.
Mercosur countries will also put in place legal guarantees protecting from imitation 357 high-quality European food and drink products recognised as Geographical Indications (GIs), such as Tiroler Speck (Austria), Fromage de Herve (Belgique), Münchener Bier (Germany), Comté (France), Prosciutto di Parma (Italy), Polska Wódka (Poland), Queijo S.
Jorge (Portugal), Tokaji (Hungary) or Jabugo (Spain).
The agreement will open up new business opportunities in Mercosur for EU companies selling under government contracts, and to service suppliers in the information technology, telecommunications and transport sectors, among others.
It will simplify border checks, cut red tape and limit the use of export taxes by Mercosur countries.
Smaller companies on both sides will also benefit thanks to a new online platform providing easy access to all relevant information. ■