EU, Mercosur to unblock trade talks, hurdles remain
SANTIAGO (REUTERS) - EU leaders won a promise from Argentina and Brazil to revive stalled talks on a free-trade deal that would be a major prize for Europe as it emerges from crisis, but disputes over key issues mean a breakthrough appears distant.
At a summit in Santiago on Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel led the Europeans in a new push in the negotiations with the South American trade bloc Mercosur that is made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Venezuela and Uruguay.
In a region whose economies are in markedly better shape than Europe's, Merkel's persistence appeared to pay off after she met her Brazilian and Argentina counterparts and warned them not to revert to the kind of protectionism of the 1930s that deepened the Great Depression.
"A tremendous effort has been made to install new momentum into the discussions," the EU's Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said during the summit. Asked if there had been a breakthrough, he said: "I think we have to be careful with that word. It's moving on the political front."