EU, South America bloc reach trade deal after 20 years of talks

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt. (Reuters pic)

BRUSSELS: The European Union and South American trade bloc Mercosur agreed Friday on a vast trade deal to end 20 years of talks over one of the world’s largest regional commercial accords, negotiators said.

The agreement comes after two decades of often tough EU negotiations with the countries of Mercosur – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – that repeatedly stalled because of European farmer sensitivities over the beef market.

The deal comes with the US administration of President Donald Trump caught up in several trade disputes including tensions with China and disagreements with EU countries.

“This is a historic moment. In the middle of international trade tensions, we are today sending a strong signal to our Mercosur partners,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement.

Brazil also welcomed a “historic” agreement while Argentina called the deal “unprecedented”.

The announcement of the deal, which must be approved by the 28 EU member states, comes as leaders of the world’s most powerful economies gather in Osaka, Japan, for a G20 summit.

The agreement, one of the largest ever concluded by the EU with its more than 770 million consumers, has raised concerns of European farmers who fear unfair competition, as well as NGOs concerned about consequences for the climate.