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Exclusive: EU Commission says Mercosur trade deal a priority in its search for new allies

By Belén Carreño and Philip Blenkinsop

MADRID/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Reaching a long-delayed trade deal with Mercosur bloc is a top priority, the European Commission said, As the EU seeks new allies to reduce its reliance on China and the United States, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The policy paper, to be presented on Wednesday by the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, lays out the importance of ensuring priority access to Latin American raw materials and other resources in the face of “increasing geopolitical challenges”.

This appears to be aimed at giving new impetus to efforts to rekindle ties with the Mercosur bloc of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Such a deal would help the EU take a more independent stance and reduce its reliance on Beijing and Washington, EU diplomatic sources told Reuters, especially if Donald Trump wins re-election next year .

The EU-Mercosur trade agreement has been agreed in 2019 principle, but is still awaiting ratification by the relevant national parliaments.

France – the deal was not popular with local farmers – has since said it wants Mercosur to agree to various additional commitments, notably respecting EU rules on deforestation, before backing it.

“By strengthening the partnership between the two regions with the world’s most closely aligned interests and values, the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean (Latin America and the Caribbean) will be better equipped to respond global challenges,” the document, seen by Reuters on Monday, read.

Latin America and Europe should work to reduce “over-reliance” on third countries, it added.

The document lays out a roadmap for expeditiously concluding multiple free trade and partnership agreements with Latin American countries, as well as boosting bilateral relations with Mexico and Brazil.

Many of the deals will build on the EU scheme to invest in green and digital transformation projects in Latin America, due in July 18-17 was ratified at the summit between the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union, the first since 2019.

Supply of energy resources to the EU will also play a prominent role Brussels wants to sign deals with Latin American countries as envisioned in the EU’s new key raw materials strategy, the document said.

Mitigating risks in the supply chain of materials related to sustainable energy, highlighted by shortages during the pandemic and the energy crisis following the Russian invasion of Ukraine .

According to European diplomatic sources, talks with Chile and Argentina are progressing most smoothly and a deal could be announced as early as July.



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