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Mercosur trade talks resume in Uruguay

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European negotiators are on their way to South America, where an agreement including increased Brazilian beef imports into the EU seems closer than in earlier talks.

Negotiations are resuming this Monday evening local time in Montevideo, after stalling last March. Since then, the two blocs have made progress on European car exports to the four Mercosur countries, and there are fears that beef concessions will be agreed this week in return.

The main opponents to a deal have been the Irish and French governments, because of the devastating effect the mooted 99,000t EU beef offer could have on both countries’ farmers. Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has continued to lobby against an agreement in recent weeks.

Red lines

His French counterpart Stéphane Travert played down the prospect of a deal just 10 days ago, reminding reporters of Paris’s “red lines” on food safety standards and the cuts of meat to be allowed in.

Other sources say a deal is within reach. “We are going to have an accord,” former Brazilian ambassador and president of the country’s export promotion agency Apex Roberto Jaguaribe told Agra Facts last week.