In June 28th, the European Union and Mercosur reached a historic Free Trade Agreement. It is considered a ‘historic moment’, since the two trading blocs represent almost 25 percent of the world’s economy. The date coincided with the twentieth anniversary of the start of the negotiations between both, for which the celebrations can be interpreted as a birthday party. Yet, it is not so much the date, but the moment, the most transcendent part of this, because the signature of this agreement took place simultaneously with one of the most G20 summits since the 2008 recession.
In the midst of the uncertainty surrounding the US-China trade war that is contributing to slowing down the global economy and the tax threats via Twitter, the UE-Mercosur move was astute, if not brilliant. The morning started as usual with Trump criticizing all of his partners, ordering President Sánchez to sit down and Ivanka’s inexplicable omnipresence. In the afternoon, however, the world was talking of nothing but the EU and Mercosur. In Osaka, the leaders of nine nations and the president of the EU praised each other and were congratulated by the remaining members of the exclusive circle of power pulling the world’s strings. Tension broke —at least for a while— being every reason for it: the celebration of a free trade agreement that torn down the costumes barriers between 32 states and 800 million people.
This all happened under the noses of the one who should have worn the Leader of the Free World cap, but instead wears the Make America Great Again one. Probably he was not happy of being left out of the party. But if the US President does not claim that title, someone must carry it in his place. Years ago some had so attributed it to Angela Merkel, who despite shaking on the 27th, exerted it the following day. With the media predicting her retirement, it seems dubious that the world’s most powerful woman for the last twelve years plans to be remembered for some seizures.
Should everything resolve favourably, a fourth of the world will be tearing down its barriers and building prosperity.
This agreement, that is still to go through both parliaments, constitutes an authentic magnum opus of international diplomacy. The picture announcing it on the G20 so proved it: the Chancellor in the middle surrounded by a government-less Spain, a hesitant France, a populist Italy, an unconformable UK and Donald, but Tusk. Coming from the other side of the Atlantic, she was joined by two friends of the American businessman, Jair Bolsonaro and Mauricio Macri. The Argentinian described the agreement as “the most important of our history” with a passion that surpassed Trump’s. But it was the Brazilian, whose only presence sent the strongest message. The so called “Brazilian Trump” celebrated, as it if were the day of his presidential victory, a free trade agreement. Brazil’s economy is still in difficulties, and the man who started his term saying that the Mercosur was not a priority just admitted that there is no other way but to liberalise trade.
That, a free trade pact, managed to unite all this unlikely partners. Applauded by the world’s mightiest, it is recognition of how, even though nothing is perfect, free trade, pole of the liberal international economy is the path for States to develop and progress. Should everything resolve favourably, one fourth of the world will be tearing down its barriers and building prosperity. An example to follow, setting all differences countries have aside, to agree on the one thing that will lead to economic growth and consequently, to greater liberty. Maybe, all this staging sounds like a conspiracy theory, but the events of the following day could confirm the reception of the message, or even an order. Thus, on June 29th, Trump announced the trade-war truce and resumed the commercial negotiations with China.