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Macri's priorities: Mercosur, EU and the Pacific Alliance

Staff writer |
Argentine president Mauricio Macri pledged full support for Mercosur as a long term strategic project, called for a quick trade agreement with the European Union and closer ties with the Pacific Alliance.

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In his address to fellow heads of state from Mercosur meeting in Paraguay, Macri called on the bloc, whose founding members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, to modernize and accelerate a long-delayed effort to sign a trade deal with the European Union (EU).

“We haven’t done enough. We don’t want a two-speed Mercosur. It’s time for us to step on the gas. A trade deal between Mercosur and the European Union (should be) a priority,” Macri said.

Both blocs are currently locked in negotiations over a deal that has been years in the making, and European authorities had hinted that if an accord was delayed, then an alternative “two-speed deal” could be pursued, in which Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay could sign an agreement with Europe first and the rest could join later.

The agreement with the EU is expected to be signed sometime in the first half of next year with Uruguay holding the Mercosur chair. However the two groups have first to agree on the exchange of tariff-reduction proposal lists. France claims that Mercosur drafts are 'not ambitious enough'.

Mercosur’s closing statement made no specific mention of the EU accord, though it did call for a meeting to discuss improving relations with the Pacific Alliance, a trade bloc comprised of Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico formed in 2011.

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