E.U., Mercosur talk trade

by Stormy Wylie
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LONDON — The European Union and South America's Mercosur trade bloc will hold a round of discussions beginning in April aimed at creating the world's largest free trade area by 2005. However, tariffs will not be discussed until July 2001, an E.U. official said.

The April meeting will set up three negotiating groups — one for goods, one for services and one for government procurement and dispute settlement. Negotiators will meet twice more before the year's end.

The Mercosur bloc consists of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil. Trade talks are estimated to take three to four years, with 2005 as the deadline.