BUENOS AIRES – Argentine President Mauricio Macri said on Tuesday during an event with visiting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that the European Union and South America’s Mercosur bloc have never been closer to a trade agreement.
“We are doing everything we can and I’m sure Spain is too,” Macri said at a forum bringing together Argentine and Spanish businessmen, as well as senior officials from both countries.
“I am rightly optimistic that we will reach that agreement,” he added.
The EU and Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay) signed an interregional framework cooperation agreement in 1995 and negotiations on a trade treaty were initiated in April 2000 but have remained stagnant for several years.
“Even though agreements of this kind imply certain specific concessions, experience shows us that the benefits greatly outweigh the costs in terms of growth and well-being,” said the Spanish prime minister, adding that his country is the main advocate for an agreement between Mercosur at the EU.
Both blocs agreed that more progress has been achieved over the last few months than during the entire last decade and Rajoy said that this is a good time to finally close the deal.
He added that some European countries that may have been reluctant to participate in a trade deal with Mercosur in the past now see it as an opportunity to counteract US President Donald Trump’s free trade barriers.