ASUNCION – The European Union and Mercosur will continue negotiating a long-sought-after trade agreement in the coming weeks after the latest round of negotiations ended on Friday without a final agreement, Paraguay’s foreign minister said.
Eladio Loizaga, who met with Edita Hrda, Americas director of the EU External Service, said that he hoped conversations would continue “during the next three weeks” and that “a consensus could be achieved.”
Hrda expressed a similar opinion, adding that the two sides had made progress toward a political and cooperation agreement.
Loizaga said that the four Mercosur members (Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay) would take advantage of next week’s foreign ministers summit in Asuncion to analyze a possible trade agreement with Canada and to address the final details of the negotiations with the EU.
“What our four countries want is to sign the agreement with the EU as soon as possible, because we have been negotiating this for 19 years and if we don’t catch this train we never will,” Loizaga said.
Delegates from the EU and Mercosur started the latest round of trade negotiations in Asuncion on Feb. 21 after nearly two years of preliminary meetings in South America and Brussels.
The two sides have been negotiating a broad association agreement since 1999, but discussions were suspended from 2004-2010 and only resumed in 2016.