EFTA parliamentarians in Brazil and Argentina to advocate for conclusion of free trade agreement with Mercosur countries

Published 19-03-2024
A delegation of the EFTA Parlamentary Committee meeting with members of parliamet at Palacio San Martin, the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRECIC).

A delegation of the EFTA Parliamentary Committee (EFTA PC) will undertake a five-day official visit to Argentina and Brazil from 18 to 22 March 2024. The aim of the visit is to give a political impetus to concluding negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) between EFTA and Mercosur – five years after an agreement in substance was reached in 2019.

Mr Thomas Aeschi from the Swiss Parliament and Chair of the EFTA PC will lead the delegation throughout the week, which is composed of parliamentarians from all four EFTA States: Iceland (Ms Isaksen and Ms Gunnarsdóttir), Liechtenstein (Mr Kaufmann and Mr Seger), Norway (Ms Nordby Lunde and Mr Hussaini), and Switzerland (Mr Würth, Mr Sommaruga, and Mr Portmann). Two representatives from the business and employers’ organisations and from the Trade Union Confederations of the EFTA States will also be present.

At times of major geopolitical shifts and disrupted global value chains following the global pandemic, EFTA is striving to widen its free trade network. This network is one of the most comprehensive worldwide, comprising 31 FTAs covering 42 countries and territories outside the European Union. On 10 March 2024, EFTA concluded an FTA with India – the most populous country in the world with a fast-growing economy.

Galvanised by this major success, EFTA parliamentarians are keen to build on this momentum and to advocate for the conclusion of negotiations with Mercosur, another important trading partner for EFTA with a market of over 260 million consumers. As export-oriented economies with high-value products and services, diversifying supply chains and increasing their resilience has become a top trade policy priority for the EFTA States.

In 20 years, the trade volume between EFTA and Mercosur has seen a nearly fourfold increase to account for EUR 7.4 billion in 2023. The foundations are there to institutionalise these flourishing economic relations and expand them further. During their time in Brasília on 20 and 21 March, EFTA parliamentarians will convey this message to Mr Geraldo Alckmin, Minister of Development, Industry, Trade and Service and to the Brazilian Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Environment and Climate.

They will further use the opportunity to meet with Mr Rodrigo Otavio Soares Pacheco, Speaker of the Senate, with Mr Arthur Lira, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and with Mr Nelsinho Trad, President of the Brazilian Group at Parlasul – the parliament of the Mercosur countries. These meetings will provide a unique opportunity to strengthen the parliamentary cooperation and discuss the way forward regarding the respective ratification processes in the parliaments of the EFTA States and Mercosur countries.

The delegation will conclude its working visit on 22 March in Rio de Janeiro. Meetings with the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, the Brazilian Development Bank and Zurich Airport Latin America will contribute to a better understanding of additional cooperation avenues in the fields of research and development, the financing of major infrastructure and development projects, and investment opportunities in Brazil.

The EFTA PC is a forum of parliamentarians from the four EFTA States. Its mission is to scrutinise and advise EFTA governments on EFTA’s trade relations with important partners across the globe, such as the Mercosur countries. It is a vital platform for dialogue and consultation on the social, economic, and political aspects of EFTA’s free trade agreements, thereby contributing to the legitimacy and democratic accountability of EFTA’s free trade policy.

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