According to Eurostat data, in 2018 total EU-Mercosur trade in goods amounted to €87.6 billion. EU exports to Mercosur stood at €45,0 billion and EU imports from Mercosur at €42.5 billion. As for the geographical breakdown, Brazil accounted for €65 billion, Argentina for €18 billion, Paraguay for €1.4 billion, and Uruguay for €3.1 billion. Total EU-Mercosur trade in goods in 2018 was up from €81.7 billion in 2008, but down from a 2012 peak of €100.5 billion. The volatility of global commodity prices explains to some extent the fluctuation in the trade value of Mercosur exports which has been stronger for Mercosur exports to the world (expressed in US$) than to the EU (Figure 2). Mercosur is a large exporter of commodities. Its biggest exports to the EU in 2018 were agricultural products (AR), (BR), (PY), (UY), such as foodstuffs, beverages and tobacco (20.5 %), vegetable products including soya and coffee (16.3 %) and meats and other animal products (6.1 %), and minerals (17.6 %). EU exports to Mercosur consisted of machinery (28.6 %), chemicals and pharmaceuticals (23.6 %), and transport equipment (13.3 %). Sluggish demand from Mercosur for EU goods due to Brazil’s severe recession from 2014 to 2016, trade diversion to new competitors, as well as high tariff and non-tariff barriers, were major reasons for a lack of growth in EU exports to Mercosur. In 2017, the EU lost its long-standing position as Mercosur’s first trading partner to China. In 2018, the latter accounted for 24.1 % of the bloc’s external trade, ahead of the EU with 20.1 % and the US with 14.4 %. Whereas in the 1990s, the EU’s strategy for Latin America was also aimed at counterbalancing the US, China has meanwhile emerged as a major competitor, including in machinery and transport equipment.
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