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Israel; Mercosur: Free Trade Accord to Be Signed

(Jan. 2, 2008) Delegations representing Mercosur and Israel held meetings in Geneva to negotiate a free trade accord that can be signed in early 2008. It will be the first accord signed between the bloc and a country outside Latin America. However, participants in the discussion said that there are still obstacles to be overcome by both sides. For example, Israel resists giving preferential treatment for exports from Paraguay and Uruguay, while Argentina and Israel cannot agree on trade treatment of agricultural herbicides.

The negotiations generated protests from non-government organizations and political parties that claim that with the accord, the governments of Mercosur country members are legitimizing the actions of Israel in the Middle East, such as the occupation of territory claimed by the Palestinians, who are discriminated against by the Israeli government. (Mercosul Pode Assinar Acordo de Livre Comércio com Israel, O GLOBO (O)NLINE, Nov. 26, 2007.)