French President Emmanuel Macron has pushed trade onto the agenda of the European Union summit, which started yesterday (18 October) and called for caution in trade deals that would bring a rise in beef and other agricultural imports. Mr. Macron said last week that his country was not rushing to finalize an FTA with the Mercosur bloc of Argentina, Brazil Uruguay and Paraguay by the end of this year – a goal that was set by the EU Commission.
The French President is particularly concerned that the Commission was “running too fast” towards an FTA with Mercosur as it plans to start off negotiations with Australia and New Zealand, two other countries that are interested in exports of agricultural products. “In trade, it’s about having a political discussion linked to the Mercosur file but also going beyond it,” a French presidential source said.
Last month, France and 10 other EU countries told the Commission, which negotiates trade agreements on behalf of EU countries that the bloc first needed to say how much beef, ethanol and other farm products it can afford to let in under the existing and future agreements. EU lawmakers last week were in favor of starting such free trade talks, while warning that negotiators should be cautious about allowing in produce such as butter and beef. Mr. Macron said that he believed in free trade but wanted to proceed with caution and care. He also said that his cabinet would like to know more details on the potential deals with Australia and New Zealand.