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Trade accord with Egypt and Customs code main issues of Mercosur summit.

A trade agreement with Egypt and the approval of a much-delayed customs code are two of the highlights of the Mercosur leaders Tuesday meeting in Argentina for one of the two annual summits.

According to Argentine officials hosting the summit “the elimination of the double payment of the common external tariff (AEC) and the mechanism of distribution of customs revenue”, could be reached after more than five years of negotiations between the members of the block.

”All the negotiations undertaken during the last six months indicate that at the San Juan summit we are going to finally establish mechanisms for the elimination of the double AEC and an agreed distribution of customs revenue” said Alfredo Chiaradía, Argentina’s International Economic Relations secretary.
However two articles are still pending of consensus admits Chiaradia.

Of the almost 200 articles of the customs code, “there are only two articles that have not yet been agreed upon, which is one percent of the total; the other 99% has already been agreed”.

Logic indicates that this time “we should reach an agreement, but we don’t have guarantees” added the Argentine official who is the newly chosen ambassador to the United States.

Brazilian ambassador in Argentina Enio Cordero recently said he didn’t believe it would be possible to finish drafting the code with consensus from all ministers, but, he added “it’s not impossible”.

Although some analysts are sceptical about the consolidation of Mercosur as a customs union, if the Customs Code is finally approved and the double external tariff eliminated, “it will mean a vital step forward for the group”.

As to the trade agreement with Egypt, that country’s Trade minister, Rachid Mohamed Rachid, on a Latinamerican tour said he was very optimistic about signing with Mercosur.

”We’ve analyzed and covered 99% of what we intended, so I’m sure that we can achieve what is missing in the coming days”, said Rachid last Friday during a press conference in Buenos Aires.

Egypt and Mercosur have been holding talks for several years but only lately did it advance with four rounds of negotiations in three years. Egypt is a major buyer of grains and oil seeds.

In 2008 Mercosur/Egypt bilateral trade reached 2 billion US dollars.

Source: Merco Press / Agosto 2010


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