The International Trade Council wishes to inform stakeholders that President Santiago Pena of Paraguay has officially announced a stipulated deadline for the ongoing Mercosur-European Union trade negotiations. If an agreement is not reached by December 6th, Paraguay will cease participation in these talks once it assumes the bloc's presidency from Brazil.
President Pena has expressed concerns over the pace and direction of the negotiations, indicating a perceived lack of enthusiasm from the European Union. This perspective stems from the challenges the discussions faced in 2019 after the European Union introduced a side letter emphasizing environmental stipulations.
In an effort to streamline the process and bring clarity to the situation, Mercosur, comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, submitted a counter-proposal to the European Union's side letter in September.
Furthermore, President Pena has informed the Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, about his intent to explore other international trade options if the current talks do not conclude favorably. He emphasized the possibility of quickly establishing agreements with regions like Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
However, there remains a sense of optimism, as EU Ambassador to Paraguay, Javier Garcia de Viedma, expressed belief in achieving a viable EU-Mercosur agreement by the conclusion of 2023. He stated, "If there is political will from the negotiators, I think we will manage it by the end of this year."
The International Trade Council remains hopeful for a positive resolution and will keep all stakeholders updated as developments unfold.