At Last

By Isaac Cohen*

                  After twenty years of spasmodic negotiations, the European Union (28 member states) and MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) signed a free trade agreement among both blocs, to create a mega market of 780 million persons and $21 trillion.

                  The question is what led to the breakdown of the powerful opposition which existed in both blocs and which had made impossible to come to an agreement during two decade. For instance, within MERCOSUR, President Mauricio Macri in Argentina is involved in a disputed reelection, amid a recession and was therefore actively seeking an international triumph. While in Brazil, the new government of President Jair Bolsonaro is implementing a more open external economic policy.

                  Both factors may explain one side of the equation, but they do not explain how it was vanquished the powerful opposition which exists within the European Union, for example among influential French farmers, against the feared competition from efficient Argentine and Brazilian agricultural exporters.

                  The explanation may be found across the Atlantic, in the White House protectionist policy, which is motivating many US trading partners to engage in free trade agreement negotiations. For instance, two days after the EU-MERCOSUR announcement, the European Union said it had signed another free trade agreement with Vietnam. Previously, Japan had also concluded a similar agreement with the European Union and last year, 11 nation s without the United States approved the Trans Pacific Partnership.                  

*International analyst and consultant, former Director ECLAC Washington. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO and other media.


About Ramón Jiménez

Ramón Jiménez, Managing Editor de MetroLatinoUSA.Com (MLN). Graduado de la Escuela de Periodismo de la Universidad del Distrito de Columbia (UDC). Email:

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