SAO PAULO – The completion of an agreement between the European Union and the Mercosur trade bloc is “closer than ever,” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Tuesday, urging the parties to speed up the negotiations and close the deal before the end of the year.
Speaking at the Spain-Brazil economic forum in Sao Paulo during his official visit to the South American country, Rajoy said that his government was making all the efforts possible to bring the negotiations to fruition.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes Ferreira and Trade Minister Marcos Antonio Pereira also attended the event.
According to Rajoy, the agreement will improve the lives of people in all countries involved creating a market of 700 million consumers, and it will facilitate relations between their companies.
An EU-Mercosur trade pact will send a positive message to the international community about the benefits of free markets and openness, Rajoy said.
“Broad, balanced and mutually beneficial trade agreements are the best tools for guaranteeing growth and global prosperity,” the Spanish prime minister said.
Mercosur, whose members are Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, and the EU began discussing a free trade agreement in 1999, but the talks were placed on hold following several fruitless rounds in 2010, when the parties decided to use the 2016 Madrid summit between Europe and Latin America to relaunch the negotiations.