Estonia still in favor of ambitious treaty with Mercosur
The Estonian government supports an ambitious trade agreement with Mercosur, the sub-regional bloc promoting free trade between countries of South America, and is in favor of its endorsement, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications said commenting on the opinion of the Ministry of Rural Affairs that the EU should refrain from allowing too big amounts of agricultural and food products from Mercosur on its market, reports LETA/BNS.
“In the free trade negotiations with Mercosur, Estonia continues to follow the positions of the government approved in November 2015 and supports an ambitious trade treaty also when it comes to agricultural and food products. While the Ministry of Rural Affairs has considered a more in-depth analysis of the imposition of tariff quotas as necessary, the government has not adopted the stance that tariff quotas should not be imposed,” Keit Kasemets, deputy secretary general of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, told BNS on Tuesday.
The Estonian Ministry of Rural Affairs Estonia and 12 partner nations have called to refrain from allowing too big amounts of agricultural and food products from Mercosur to the European Union market as part of a planned tree trade deal.
Pointing out that Mercosur countries are world leaders in agricultural markets and their agricultural and food sectors are highly competitive, Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia find that the treatment of agriculturally sensitive products should thus be adjusted with the greatest of care.
“Besides this, the European agricultural sector is facing a particularly difficult crisis that led the Council to consider the issue on numerous occasions and the Commission to take action in the fall of 2015 and again this March. These measures have so far failed to resolve the situation, which remains very difficult for many European agricultural sectors,” the note by the 13 countries says.
“In this context, an offer to Mercosur containing quotas on sensitive products would likely be seen as a provocation by the European agricultural sector and could have a ripple effect on all ongoing trade negotiations, and in particular the ongoing negotiation with the United States,” they say.
For these reasons, the 13 countries “oppose the presence of proposals of quotas on sensitive products in the European offer that will be passed on to Mercosur in the coming months and wish to see the ministers of agriculture examine this important subject before any decision is taken concerning a future exchange of tariff offer.”
Estonia continues to support free trade treaties that are being concluded between the EU and third countries, including the free trade treaty with Mercosur. While Estonia also supports the approach that the negotiations should be as broad-based as possible, the specific nature of each individual sector nevertheless has to be kept in mind, Meeli Lindsaar, adviser at the department for trade and processing industry at the Ministry of Rural Affairs, told BNS.
“According to surveys, exports by the EU to Mercosur will grow by an estimated half and import by an estimated 40 percent. The sectors to benefit the most in the European Union would be the manufacturing and service sectors, which will increase their export substantially. Seen as the losing side in the Mercosur agreement is the European Union agricultural sector, because there import from Mercosur countries will increase more than export,” Lindsaar said.
Estonia has so far fully supported the signing of a free trade treaty between the EU and countries of Mercosur and preparation thereof. Estonia sees the EU as having a strong position in the negotiations, which means that it apparently won’t make concessions on important issues.
Mercosur (Mercado Comun del Sur) has Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia as full members, the latter being still in the process of accession. Its partner nations are Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Suriname and Peru. Mercosur is the fourth largest free trade association globally after the EU, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).