| MONTIVIDEO – The state of Palestine and the Mercosur trade group signed a free trade agreement today in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo. Palestinian foreign affairs minister Riyad Al Maliki signed the agreement with the foreign ministers of each of the core Mercosur nations – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Representing the Mercosur countries were: Antonio Patriota (Brazil), Luis Almagro (Uruguay), Jorge Lara Castro (Paraguay) and Hector Timerman (Argentina). The Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Al Maliki signed for Palestine. The ceremony was held in the office of the Uruguayan president.
Diplomats had been negotiating the agreement for a year, officials said.
Until now, the only Mercosur nation with any major trade with the Palestinians was Argentina, which last year exported goods worth $1.7 billion USD to the country, down from $2.2 billion in 2009, and $3.4 billion in 2008.
The Mercosur nations all recognize the Palestinian state.
The Palestinians already have free trade agreements with the European Union, Turkey and all Arab nations. Mercosur’s only free trade agreement is with Israel which came into effect in March.
Brazilian online news source for this article: terra.com.br/EFE