[DEBATE] : Mercosur to Sign Its First Free Trade Agreement, with Israel
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Mon Dec 17 04:35:22 GMT 2007
Mercosur to sign its first free trade agreement, with Israel
5 hours ago
MONTEVIDEO (AFP) — The Mercosur trading bloc will sign with Israel the
first free trade agreement in its 16-year history, during its summit
this week, Israel's Ambassador to Uruguay Yoel Barnea said Sunday.
"It's a very broad and complex agreement, with some products getting
zero tariffs from the start and others getting it in four years or
more," the ambassador told reporters, adding that no more details of
the accord would be given out until Tuesday.
The free trade agreement between Israel and Mercosur -- Argentina,
Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay -- was finally reached after the past few
days of intense negotiations.
The agreement was to have been signed on Monday, at the start of
Mercosur's two-day summit, but was postponed 24 hours to allow for the
arrival of Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim.
Diplomats said the Mercosur-Israeli agreement was likely to be the
only major outcome of the summit, since Mercosur members are still
tackling complex tariff and trade issues to smooth out inequalities
The Monday-Tuesday summit will be attended by presidents Tabare
Vazquez of Uruguay, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Cristina
Kirchner of Argentina, and Nicanor Duarte, of Paraguay.
It will be Kirchner's first Mercosur summit since she was sworn in
December 10 as president of Argentina, taking over from her husband
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet will also attend the Mercosur
summit as an associate member.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will also be present, but not as a
full Mercosur member since Venezuela's admission to the bloc is still
pending approval from Paraguayan and Brazilian lawmakers.
Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay formed Mercosur in 1991 with
the aim of creating a South American common market. Chile and Bolivia
became associate members in 1996.
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