The EU's top diplomat has begun his official Latin American tour in Uruguay, as the EU seeks to strengthen bilateral and regional ties.
On Monday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell visited Uruguay's capital, meeting with President Luis Lacalle Pou and Vice-President Beatriz Argimon, as the EU and Mercosur negotiate a trade deal.
"We remain committed to this agreement and in the coming months, I hope that before the end of the year, we will raise the additional elements that allow this agreement to move forward," Borrell said.
According to el Observador newspaper, there are some doubts regarding the environmental impact of the deal, with Borrell pushing for "mutual obligations" to protect ecosystems, insisting "we can continue without an agreement, but that will cause other economic actors to intervene.”
However, Borrell insisted the "strategic agreement" would be a "win-win" for both parties, opening up commerce to the region, providing "real opportunities" for companies on both sides, fostering job opportunities and benefitting "more than 700 million people."
The diplomat added it would be the biggest trade deal the EU has reached in terms of tariffs.
Borrell also raised the issue of the Russia-Ukraine war, thanking Uruguay for "condemning this invasion.”
The diplomat underscored the role of strategic alliances amid "turbulent times, noting the threats of war and "the crisis of multilateralism" and insisting the first thing he did on arriving in Uruguay's capital was to call Ukraine.
During his time in Montevideo, Borrell also met with Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo.
The diplomat also underscored that Uruguay and the EU share the "same political model, and a similar social model" and "the values of respect for democracy, the rule of law, human rights and international commitments."
On Twitter, Borrell highlighted the importance of trade between the EU.
"Our companies choose to invest in Uruguay, as (a) beacon of stability with high production & environmental standards. EU investments account for 40% of total FDI in Uruguay," wrote Borrell.
Borrell is set to visit Argentina on Tuesday to meet with President Alberto Fernandez and Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero.