VIENNA, April 15 (Reuters) - South American trade bloc Mercosur plans to sign a trade agreement with the European Union this year, the president of Argentina, which holds the rotating presidency of Mercosur, said in an interview published on Saturday.
The comments by Argentine President Mauricio Macri appeared to confirm remarks by Brazil’s foreign minister, who told Reuters last month that the members of Mercosur - Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay - would sign a framework political deal with the EU this year.
“We firmly intend to sign an agreement in the second half of this year,” Macri said in an interview with Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung. He did not elaborate on the nature of the agreement.
“We also want to move towards the Pacific alliance comprised of Chile, Columbia and Mexico. It won’t happen immediately and will take a couple of years,” he said, adding that he believed the continent agreed on the need for closer cooperation.
Macri said he would also seek to use a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington this month to improve ties with the United States.
Relations between the two countries were seriously damaged by Argentina’s $100 billion debt default in 2002 and have improved since Macri, who like Trump worked as a businessman before entering politics, took office in 2015.
“Argentina barely has relations with the USA anymore. There is a great deal we could improve and hardly anything we could make worse,” Macri said. (Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Alison Williams)