Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

State of play of EU-Mercosur trade relations

Delivered in Plenary - 17th Janaury 2013

Mr President

The EU is Latin America’s second largest trading partner after the US, and its leading investor. Although only a handful of European countries are commercially active in the region, the GBP 200 billion of direct investment is not spread evenly across the continent. Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Chile take the lion’s share of this money but they are not responding with measures to open their markets.

Thus the free trade agreement negotiations with Mercosur in the South are not easy. No date has yet been set for the exchange of market access. This is very unfortunate. Argentina is more interested in nationalist posturing over the Falkland Islands and has little interest – as one would expect I suppose from the Peronist Party – in opening its markets to free trade. One only has to recall the recent hostile nationalisation of Spain’s YPF Repsol, without compensation, by the Argentine Government.

However, since then, several Mercosur members have imposed further protectionist measures. We are not winning the battle to liberalise trade in South America. So it is good to be updated by this communication from the Commission. We need to understand what obstacles remain to progress, because ultimately we need to have very good relations – trade, political and every kind of relationship – with Latin America, which shares our values and is composed largely of democracies like the Member States of the European Union.