Mercosur reaches trade deal with European countries

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) – South American trade bloc Mercosur reached a free trade agreement on Friday with four European countries, Argentine officials and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said after talks in Buenos Aires.

The agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) formed by Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, comes two months after Mercosur sealed a landmark trade deal with the European Union.

Bolsonaro, whose policies on the Amazon rainforest are causing some EU countries to threaten not to approve the giant EU deal, welcomed the EFTA agreement on Twitter.

“We concluded today negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement between Mercosur and EFTA, which has a GDP of 1.1 trillion dollars and is the ninth biggest commercial actor in the world. It is a great victory for our diplomacy of open trade diplomacy,” Bolsonaro wrote.

France and Ireland have vowed to block the EU-Mercosur deal amid a global outcry over wildfires threatening the Amazon rainforest, blamed on accelerating deforestation under Bolsonaro’s far-right government.

Brazil and Argentina are the biggest partners in the four-nation Mercosur, which also includes Uruguay and Paraguay.