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Brazil gets serious about trade deal with EU

The Brazilian government has indicated it's willing to take trade with the European Union to the next level. It looked prepared to push for a deal without waiting for Latin America's Mercosur trade bloc.

Latin America's largest economy said Monday it was willing to push for a trade agreement with the European Union on its own, following years of unsuccessful negotiations about such a deal within the larger Mercosur trade bloc, which includes Venezuela and Uruguay.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota told the Monday edition of the "Financial Times" a corresponding proposal would be handed in by the end of the month.

Analysts said the emerging economy was under time pressure as the World Trade Organization was to classify Brazil as a country of citizens with medium to high income levels, meaning it would lose some of its current perks in trade relations with the European Union.

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The FT report said a trade treaty between Brazil and the EU would cover a volume of $80 billion (60 billion euros) annually. Data released by the European Commission revealed that Brazil accounts for 37 percent of the overall trade volume between the EU and Latin America.

Strained by a widening trade deficit, Brazil has been leading efforts to allow Mercosur member countries to negotiate trade deals at their own pace in a bid to ensure speedier progress in talks with the EU that have been dragging on since 1995.

The Latin American bloc has been unable so far to do away with some asymmetries that have made it impossible for them to agree on a time frame for a deal with Brussels. However, officials noted that a unilateral attempt by Brazil to strike an accord with the EU would be no means spell the beginning of the end of Mercosur.

hg/hc (dpa, Reuters)

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