After signing the CPTPP trade deal in Chile on Thursday, Canada’s trade minister flew to Paraguay to announce the launch of formal negotiations on a free trade deal with the Mercosur trade bloc on Friday morning.
Mercosur’s current membership consists of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, making it the fourth largest trading bloc in the world.
Francois-Philippe Champagne and his Mercosur trade minister counterparts made the announcement in Asunción, less than a month after exploratory talks between Canada and the Mercosur countries wrapped up.
“With a combined population of 260 million and a GDP of over $3 trillion, the Mercosur member countries of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay offer Canada an opportunity to deliver on its ambitious and diversified trade agenda with like-minded and fast-growing markets,” said Champagne.
To date, there’s been next to no mention of export opportunities for Canadian agriculture in a Mercosur deal, either from agriculture groups or the government, with Global Affairs citing potential benefits “in sectors such as energy, the extractive industries, infrastructure, environment, telecommunications, distribution and logistics, transportation and tourism.”
The first round of negotiations will be held in Ottawa from March 20 to 23.
Another day, another big move for trade diversification! Officially launched #FreeTrade talks with the world’s 4th largest trading bloc: @MERCOSUR! This will be our most progressive negotiation, with comprehensive gender, labour, human rights & Indigenous assessments. #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/JWXNeuDPRb
— François-P. Champagne ?? (@FP_Champagne) March 9, 2018