LISBON, June 28 (Xinhua) -- The Portuguese government on Friday applauded the conclusion of the negotiations on the free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Southern Common Market (Mercosur).
"This is an historic moment for relations between the EU and Mercosur, which culminated in 20 years of negotiation and gives greater strategic depth to this political and economic partnership," Portuguese foreign ministry said on its Facebook page.
Earlier in the day, the EU and Mercosur signed a trade deal that will create one of the largest free trade areas in the world, which covers a population of 780 million and "cement the close political and economic relations between the EU and Mercosur countries," said the EU document.
"In a context of strong tensions in international trade, this agreement also represents a clear signal that both the EU and Mercosur support an open and rules-based trading system," the foreign ministry said, adding that the new "ambitious, comprehensive and balanced" trade partnership will create a market of around 800 million consumers, generating important opportunities for both parties.
The two blocs agreed on transition periods ranging from 10 to 15 years for Mercosur countries, during which the FTA will be applied gradually to the adjustment of the economies of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay to international competition.
For EU countries, the deal will take effect immediately after it is ratified by legislatures of the countries involved.
The negotiations between Mercosur and the EU began in the mid-1990s but were interrupted between 2004 and 2010 by the resistance of both sides to make concessions.
After the resumption of the negotiations in 2012, they re-entered an "impasse" at the beginning of 2014 but gained new momentum in 2017.