The European Union is the first major partner to strike a trade pact with Mercosur, a bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The agreement concluded today will cover a population of 780 million and cement the close political and economic relations between the European Union 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.
Mercosur countries will also put in place legal guarantees protecting from imitation 357 high-quality European food and drink products recognised as Geographical Indications, such as Tiroler Speck, Fromage de Herve, Münchener Bier, Comté, Prosciutto di Parma, Polska Wódka, Queijo S. Jorge, Tokaji or Jabugo.
The agreement will open up new business opportunities in Mercosur for European Union 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.
While delivering significant economic benefits, the agreement also promotes high standards. The European Union and Mercosur commit to effectively implement the Paris Climate Agreement. A dedicated sustainable development chapter will cover issues such as sustainable management and conservation of forests, respect for labour rights and promotion of responsible business conduct.
It also offers civil society organisations an active role to overview the implementation of the agreement, including any human rights, social or environmental concerns. The agreement will also provide for a new forum to work closely together on a more sustainable approach to agriculture and, as part of the political dialogue under the Association Agreement, address the rights of indigenous communities.
The agreement also safeguards the European Union and Mercosur’s right to regulate in the public interest and preserves the right to organise public services in the way they consider appropriate.
European Union food safety standards will remain unchanged and all imports will have to comply with the European Union’s rigorous standards, as is the case today. The agreed food safety, and animal and plant health provisions will reinforce cooperation with the authorities of the partner countries and speed up the flow of information about any potential risks through a more direct and efficient information and notification system. In this way, the agreement will increase our efficiency in ensuring the safety of the products traded between the European Union and Mercosur countries.
The trade agreement reached today is part of a comprehensive new Association Agreement under negotiation between the European Union and Mercosur countries. It is composed of a political and cooperation pillar – on which negotiators already reached a general agreement in June 2018 in Montevideo – and the trade pillar.
Beyond trade, the agreement will enhance political dialogue and increase cooperation in areas such as migration, digital economy, research and education, human rights, including the rights of indigenous people, corporate and social responsibility, environment protection, ocean governance, as well as fight against terrorism, money laundering and cybercrime. It will also offer increased possibilities for cooperation at multilateral level.
The Association Agreement will complete the network of Association Agreements in the Americas and consolidate the relations with the important partners in the region, supporting European Union positions on many global issues.