EU-Mercosur accord can help global economy - Rousseff

Brazil's president says partnership between the EU and Brazil could boost global economic recovery.

Brazil's president says partnership between the EU and Brazil could boost global economic recovery.

By Ben Tavener

SAO PAULO - Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff said Monday that partnership between the EU and South America's Mercosur economic bloc could help the global economy.

Speaking in Brussels at the seventh EU-Brazil Summit, Rousseff said she hoped a meeting on 21 March would put in place that groundwork for a free-trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur, and that Mercosur nations had been "working hard" towards an agreement.

"There will be a great contribution that we [Mercosur and the EU] will give to the global economic recovery, particularly for two regions of such importance," Rousseff said, alongside European Council President Herman van Rompuy and the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Rousseff, who is travelling with several high-level officials and top business figures from Brazil, also stressed the Brazil itself wanted closer ties with Europe independent of Mercosur.

Tensions over Manaus trade zone

Tensions over a free economic zone in Brazil's Amazon capital, Manaus, threatened to overshadow the event after the EU recently lodged a query to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over local government policies in the trade zone towards local companies, claiming they harmed competitiveness.

Rousseff said she had been surprised by the EU's apparent opposition to the zone, which she has supported extending for a further 50 years.

"I signalled my surprise to my European counterparts that Europe, a region so committed to environmental issues, would contest environmentally-clean production, which generates work and profit, and is a fundamental instrument in conserving the Amazon rainforest," Rousseff told delegates.

The presidential office said the zone was "essential to the sustainable development of the Brazilian economy."

Fibre-optic link between Brazil and EU

The president also spoke of Brazil's desire for the two regions to work together on cyber security, and invited representatives from the EU to take part in a seminar in Sao Paulo in April about the future governance of the Internet.

"We agree on the need to develop a governance architecture that guarantees the right to privacy for citizens and businesses, the Internet's neutrality and the fundamental fact of a democratic cyberspace, which protects freedom of expression," said Rousseff.

There has also been much speculation over a proposed underwater fibre-optic communications cable between Brazil's northeastern city of Fortaleza and the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, to improve cyberspace security and reduce Brazil's reliance on the United States.

Brazil currently relies on undersea cables that run via the United States for communications with Europe.

The new data link is of particular interest to Brazil in the wake of revelations in 2013 that the United States' National Security Agency (NSA) had been spying on President Rousseff, Brazilian oil giant Petrobras and the communications of ordinary Brazilian citizens.

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