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French and Brazil presidents want free trade zone

December 13, 2013

SAO PAULO (AP) — The European Union and the South American trade bloc Mercosur are ready to revive talks on a free-trade zone, the leaders of France and Brazil said Friday.

Presidents Francois Hollande and Dilma Rousseff made their remarks during a meeting with business leaders at the Sao Paulo Federation of Industries on the second and final day of Hollande’s visit to Brazil.

Rousseff said a free-trade zone would help the two blocs “realize their yet unexplored potential for the exchange of products and services.

Hollande said the EU must be willing to “open up to Latin America and other economic zones.”

Mercosur includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela.

Trade between Brazil and France stands at about $10 billion Rousseff said, and Hollande said his country wants to increase trade to $20 billion by 2020, which he called a “a realistic objective.”

Earlier, Hollande and Sao Paulo state Gov. Geraldo Alckmin signed two cooperation agreements in basic sanitation, sustainable development, housing and urban transportation.

Neither president during the visit has mentioned Brazil’s long-delayed plan to purchase 36 fighter jets. The French-built Rafale fighter made by Dassault is one of three Brazil is considering. The other two are Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Gripen produced by Sweden’s Saab.

The two presidents also signed agreements calling for a geostationary defense and communications satellite and the creation of a binational company formed by French naval company DCNS and Brazil’s Odebrecht for the production of defense equipment.

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