EU, Mercosur agree to resume free trade talks: Spanish PM

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The EU and Mercosur, South America's biggest trading bloc, agreed Monday to resume talks aimed at reaching an "ambitious and balanced" free trade agreement, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Monday.

"We have decided to restart the talks to reach an agreement that is ambitious and balanced," he told a news conference at a summit between the European Union and countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

A free trade agreement between the 27-nation EU and Mercosur, which is made up of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, would lead to an extra five billion euros (6.2 billion dollars) in exports per year between the two sides, he added.

"Faced with the temptation of protectionism, the best response to the economic crisis is the opening trade," said Zapatero, whose country holds the rotating six-month presidency of the EU.

The EU and Mercosur began free trade talks in 1999 but they stalled in 2004 due to disagreement over tariffs protecting European agriculture from exports from Latin America.

© 2010 AFP

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