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Brazil, Argentina Seek to Bring Cuba Into Mercosur Trade Bloc

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Member nations of Mercosur will seek to boost economic and political ties with Cuba in a bid to make the communist island an associate member of the South American trade bloc.

Brazil’s Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, speaking to reporters at a summit of Mercosur leaders in Foz de Iguacu, Brazil, said that member states also agreed on a timeframe of 10 years to eliminate exceptions to the bloc’s common external tariff.

Mercosur members also signed agreements with representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Syria and the Palestinian territories to negotiate free trade agreements between the bloc and those countries.

Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay formed Mercosur in 1991 with the aim of creating a common market in the Southern Cone of South America. Trade within the bloc including Venezuela, whose entry must still be ratified by Paraguay’s Congress, will reach a record $40 billion this year.

Yesterday the bloc signed an agreement to exchange trade preferences with 11 developing nations including India, Egypt, and Indonesia. The agreement gives a 20 percent tariff break on 70 percent of the goods sold between the participating countries.

To contact the reporter on this story: Carla Simoes in Brasilia at csimoes1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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