Jordan wants agreement with the Mercosur

Brazil-Arab News Agency | 02/29/2008

Jordan wants agreement with the Mercosur

The Arab country sent to the secretariat of the Mercosur, at the end of last year, a request for a framework agreement with the South American bloc, which includes Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. The Mercosur is gong to start talks for a treaty with another Arab country, Morocco, in April, during a meeting in Rabat.

Isaura Daniel*

São Paulo - Jordan, an Arab country in the Middle East, wants to start negotiating a free trade agreement with the Mercosur. The request arrived in the South American bloc’s secretariat at the end of last year, at the time the responsibility of Uruguay. This information was disclosed by the director of the Foreign Negotiations Department at the Brazilian Foreign Office (Itamaraty), Evandro Didonet. According to him, in the month of April, talks regarding a free trade agreement between the Mercosur and Morocco should also begin. Both parties signed, in 2004, a framework agreement. This kind of document formalises the intention of both regions of establishing an agreement.

According to Didonet, Jordan’s request will be analysed by the Mercosur as a whole, but according to the director, Brazil is interested in the signing and asked the remaining partners in the bloc for that to be done as fast as possible. The Mercosur has already signed a framework agreement with Egypt and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes six Arab countries in the Middle East. Negotiations with Egypt, however, have not yet progressed and with the Gulf, they are in progress.

"Agreements can only expand trade with the region, which is already at significantly higher volumes than it was in the past, but that may still grow further," stated the president at the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Antonio Sarkis Jr. Didonet was at the Arab Brazilian Chamber offices, in São Paulo, last Thursday, to meet with Sarkis. Among the themes discussed was a free trade agreement with the Arab world. According to Sarkis, a trade agreement benefits not just the economic area of both regions, but also generates closer cultural, political and social ties.

The first meeting with the Moroccans to discuss the definite treaty is going to take place on April 7th and 8th in Rabat, in the Arab country. The meeting should include trade agreement negotiation teams of both regions. On the Brazilian side, apart from professionals from the Itamaraty, including Didonet himself, representatives of other ministries should also participate, among them the Ministry of Industry and Trade and Agriculture. In the meeting, the degree of ambition of the meeting will be defined. That is, the magnitude of the treaty that both parties want to establish and what the schedules for enactment of the tariff reduction should be.

The agreement, according to Didonet, does not necessarily need to be a "free" trade agreement. This kind of agreement, according to the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), implies on zero export and import tariffs and involves "substantially" all trade. The treaty may also be a trade preference agreement, which is less broad. The basic text for the agreement should be defined at the meeting in Rabat. Each of the parties is going to take its texts, which it normally uses in agreements, to reach a consensus.

*Translated by Mark Ament

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source: ANBA