New Zealand explores ties with Mercosur

New Zealand is interested in strengthening economic ties with the Mercosur trading bloc, says Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker.

Mr Parker visited Paraguay, the current president of Mercosur, on 6-7 March.

He held talks with the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Marcos Medina and with Minister of Foreign Affairs Eladio Loizaga during the visit. He also held a working lunch with Paraguay’s new generation of leaders to discuss sustainable economic growth.

“As part of my visit I registered with Paraguay New Zealand’s desire to begin exploratory discussions with the Mercosur trading bloc,” says Mr Parker. These exploratory discussions would identify joint interests and strengthen New Zealand’s understanding of the benefits of a potential free trade agreement.

“An agreement with Mercosur could contribute to New Zealand’s track record of comprehensive and high quality free trade agreements,” said Mr Parker. There is also considerable potential to use a trade agreement to enhance cooperation across a range of important areas, including agriculture, labour and environmental standards.

Any agreement would reflect the Government’s progressive and inclusive trade agenda, which is currently being developed.

“A New Zealand-Mercosur agreement would also send an important signal about the value we place on a strong, rules-based international trading system”. 

Taken as a whole, Mercosur countries, which include Brazil and Argentina, have a combined GDP of US$2.42 trillion. “There is considerable value in developing stronger trade linkages with Mercosur,” says Mr Parker.

New Zealand is one of only two observer countries of Mercosur, a South American trade bloc comprised of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay.