Policy brief

The European Union-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement: Prospects and risks

After nearly 20 years of on-off negotiations, the European Union and Mercosur – a customs union covering Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – in

Publishing date
24 September 2019

The quantifiable gains from the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Mercosur – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – are small on account of the small share of EU trade with Mercosur and the relatively modest ambitions of the deal in terms of liberalising agriculture in the EU and manufacturing in Mercosur.

Nevertheless, the agreement, if ratified and accompanied by reforms that strengthen competitiveness, could represent a major departure for Mercosur, pushing it towards an outward-oriented development strategy. The deal could also mark a significant step forward for the EU in its efforts to reform agriculture. The agreement faces a difficult ratification process, but is worth having and fighting for. Incorporating mechanisms to deal with environmental, especially deforestation, concerns will be particularly important. The agreement constitutes an insurance policy against further deterioration in the rules-based multilateral trading system.

About the authors

  • Uri Dadush

    Uri Dadush is a non-resident scholar at Bruegel, based in Washington, DC and a Senior Fellow at the Policy Center for the New South in Rabat, Morocco. He is also Principal of Economic Policy International, LLC, providing consulting services to international organizations as well as corporations. He teaches international trade policy at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and a course on globalization and development in the executive education program of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) and the Mohammed VI Polytechnic. He is a co-chair of the Trade, Investment and Globalization Task-Force of the T20. He was Vice-Chair of the Global Agenda Council on Trade and Investment at the World Economic Forum. His books include “WTO Accessions and Trade Multilateralism” (with Chiedu Osakwe, co-editor), “Juggernaut: How Emerging Markets Are Transforming Globalization” (with William Shaw), “Inequality in America” (with Kemal Dervis and others), “Currency Wars” (with Vera Eidelman, co-editor) and “Paradigm Lost: The Euro in Crisis”.

    Dadush was previously Director of the International Economics Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Director of International Trade, as well as Director of Economic Policy, and Director of the Development Prospects Group at the World Bank. Based previously in London, Brussels, and Milan, he spent 15 years in the private sector, where he was President of the Economist Intelligence Unit, Group Vice President of Data Resources, Inc., and a consultant with Mc Kinsey and Co. His columns have appeared in the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Il Sole 24 Ore, and L’Espresso. He has a B.A. and M.A. in Economics from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Ph.D. in Business Economics from Harvard University.

  • Michael Baltensperger

    Michael is a research assistant at Bruegel focusing on international trade and energy economics. Prior to joining Bruegel, he worked for the Economic Research and Statistics Division of the World Trade Organization and as an external collaborator for the International Labour Organization. As a student, Michael was a research assistant for Political Economy at the Faculty of Business and Economics in Basel.

    Michael holds a Master’s degree in International Economics from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and Bachelor’s degrees in History as well as Business and Economics from the University of Basel.

    He is a Swiss citizen, speaks German and English and has a good knowledge of French.

Related content