Forum of private sector reflection on the agreement EU-Mercosur
Sra. Sandra Gallina, Jefa Negociadora UE; Sr. Horacio Reyser, Secretario de Relaciones Económicas Internacionales de la Cancillería Argentina; Sr. Gabriel Bellon, Director General de Asuntos de Integración y Mercosur de la Cancillería Uruguay; Sr. Ronaldo Costa Filho, Director de Negociaciones Comerciales Extra Regionales del Mercosur – Itamaraty; Sr. Rigoberto Gauto, Viceministro de Relaciones Exteriores de la Cancillería Paraguay.
On May 30th the Eurocámara of Argentina, represented by its President Giorgio Alliata di Montereale and its Director, Claudio Farabola, organized a Forum with the private sector of Mercosur to reflect on the Free Trade Agreement Mercosur-European Union with the support of the Delegation of the European Union in Argentina.
It has been very important for the Mercosur and European entrepreneurship representatives to benefit from the presence of the Heads Negotiators of the Agreement between European Union and Mercosur, as well with the participation of EU officials of the negotiating team to exchange views with the private sector.
In their introduction, Mr. François Roudie of the Delegation of the European Union in Argentina and Giorgio Alliata di Montereale, President of the Eurocámara of Argentina resumed the context in which the negotiations are taken place, the potential benefits that an agreement would bring to both parties and the importance of the private sector’s inputs into the negotiations.
A message of optimism for the private sector was delivered by the Negotiators of the European Union and of each of the Mercosur countries, (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay). They provided comments on the importance of reaching a treaty by the end of the year, even though the calendar is tight. Sandra Gallina, Head Negotiator from the European Union highlighted the benefits that the negotiations Mercosur-EU will bring providing a legally stable environment that will enhance investment.
During a second panel devoted to the SME realities and the Agreement, Vicente Donato of the Observatory of SMEs Foundation stressed the diversity that exists within each sector in the Mercosur economies, and thus the need for private sector contribution to carefully analyzing the situation of each sector to help the negotiators identify the conditions for the agreement. Katelyne Ghemar, Regional Coordinator of the ELANBIZ project listed the main issues that SMES from Mercosur need to consider when exporting their products to the EU market, compulsory requirements but also the private standards that can enhance the possibilities of Mercosur products or services to enter niche markets. She also described the ELANBiz project as a provider of information to European SMEs on the markets of 7 Latin American countries and the sources that the Mercosur SMEs can consult for information on the EU requirements (ExportHelpdesk).
In the panel treating of Geographical Indications, GIs. Luis Quevedo of the EU’s DG Agriculture stressed the need for these to be protected in Mercosur. At the same time, he indicated the EU willingness to protect the GIs of other countries in its own European market. Mario Bustos Carra of the Chamber of Exporters of the Cuyo region in Argentina provided examples of how the GIs obtained for Cuyo products with the help of European institutions have benefited the sectors involved.
The last panel addressed the relevance of the issue of Sustainable Development for both parties. John Bazill, of the EU’s DG TRADE, indicated the importance of considering the conditions under which products are produced, and their impact on the environment, when negotiating their entry in the markets. Martín Berardi of the Argentine Council for Sustainable Development highlighted the costs of keeping manufacturing conditions that protect the environment, and how social and environmental dumping from countries outside the area of Mercosur-EU would represent an unfair competition. Ricardo Wachowicz, of the Argentine Polish Chamber of Commerce alerted that the reduction of poverty in Mercosur and the world will need new forms and a new scale of training and education in a global context of rapidly changing technologies.
The Forum ended with conclusions from Daniel Raimondi of the Undersecretary of Mercosur of Argentina, who remarked the opportunity to reach an agreement although the schedule towards the end of the year is tight and the possible implications on intra Mercosur harmonization process. Finally, the President of Eurocamara, Giorgio Alliata di Montereale emphasized the usefulness of the Forum that had taken place and the need to continue the private sector participation in the analysis of the conditions that will frame an EU-Mercosur Agreement.
This Forum was also supported by ELANBIZ, as the project facilitated the contact of the Eurocamara’s leaders with authorities of the European Commission at a seminar held with this purpose in Brussels last February and is working closely with the Eurocamaras of Argentina and other ELANBiz countries in the framework of the “ELANBiz Strenghtenning Eurocamaras Road Map”.