Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, traveled to Brussels this Thursday to discuss Mercosur with the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. This meeting takes place in a context of strong peasant demonstrations. The French consider that there is unfair competition within Europe, which would worsen if free trade is allowed with Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and soon Bolivia. Nevertheless, The agreement is still in negotiations, and this situation could lead leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to rethink your demandsbeyond agricultural and environmental issues.
In recent months, Mercosur has made progress, but more setbacks due to environmental regulations demanded by Europe. With the demonstrations of farmers who oppose said trade agreement, this issue resurfaces in European public opinion.
More than just an agricultural agreement
But if you want to talk seriously about Mercosur, the economist Antoine Bouëtfrom the University of Bordeaux, considers that This treaty cannot be reduced exclusively to agricultural products: “We cannot separate the agriculture part from the other sectors. We cannot impose on the South Americans an agreement that would open up their technology industry, especially that benefits the import of technology from Europe, and we not grant them anything in agricultural matters”.
MEPs and members of Vox, at the entrance to the European Parliament headquarters in Brussels, where hundreds of farmers are protesting. Photo: EFE
“This treaty also includes mineral resources. We think, for example, of Argentina, which has a lot of lithium, in Bolivia, which is in the entry process and let us remember that lithium is essential for the production of batteries and electric vehicles. A free trade agreement is above all an exchange of concessions“, Add.
Agriculture vs technology
“From our South American vision we have an inverse situation,” he comments for his part. Oscar Guillen, doctoral fellow at the Institute of Economic and Social Research of the South, at the National University of the South, Argentina.
He agrees with the economist Antoine Bouët, and specifies the technological issues: “What for the European case represents agriculture in terms of competitiveness and competition, for us, the opposite, would represent all technological development. We must go beyond what is being discussed and concessions must be made that serve both parties”.
“We need, at the Mercosur level, to sell the products where we basically have comparative advantages, which are all agricultural products, and we also need bring everything that is not produced here in terms of medium and high technology,” he analyzes.
“Win win situation”
As France pays attention to agricultural issues, Germany is interested in the pharmaceutical, automotive, and aeronautical industries. For its part, Uruguay, a country whose agricultural production represents the majority of its exports, calls for releasing European trade obstacles.
“Just as the European Union has demands, Latin America and in the case of Mercosur also have demands. So The pact is closed when we are in a win-win situation (everyone wins), which of course is what is desired by the parties,” concludes Oscar Guillén.
The Mercosur trade agreement could integrate 800 million inhabitants.
Negotiations between Mercosur (Southern Common Market) and the European Union (EU) They started in 1999, when a Framework Cooperation Agreement was signed between both organizations.
However, formal negotiations for a free trade agreement between Mercosur and the EU began in 2000. Since then, there have been several rounds of negotiations and various partial agreements have been reached, but a final agreement has not yet been reached.