Antony Reeve-Crook, Director, ArciMedia Ltd.

Twenty years in the making and the European Union has finally signed the paperwork on a trading deal with the Mercosur trading bloc in the Americas, a deal that creates the largest multinational trading market in the world at 780 million people. It’s big news for EU organisers active in the region, such as Reed and Clarion, which represent many EU companies looking to enter or grow in the Mercosur members Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay (Venezuela having been suspended in 2016).

Part of a wider association agreement

The new trade framework is part of a wider association agreement between the two regions and is hoped to consolidate strategic political and economic partnerships, removing tariffs and giving 266 million consumers from the Americas access to European goods and services at competitive prices – aiding sustainable growth for exhibitions in both regions.

It also makes the EU the first major partner to strike a political and economic trade pact with the Mercosur, and it does so in a rather timely fashion, certainly for those of us in the UK – despite our government previously exclaiming deals in the Americas are best done bilaterally; a position to which it will soon be constitutionally bound.

Brexit banter aside, the trade agreement is the largest ever concluded by the EU, expected to save EU members €4 billion in duties at the border – four times as much as the union’s recent deal with Japan.

Assurances have been given that it will protect the rights of EU cattle farmers and Mercosur automotive engineers alike, both groups having raised concerns about the viability of their businesses arising from the pact.

Time will tell if their concerns remain valid, but for the time being, it stands to give European companies an important head-start into a market that has become substantially more attractive for international trade show organisers actively involved in the following industries:

  • Automotive
  • Machinery
  • Chemical
  • Agri-food (specifically: Chocolate, Spirits, Soft Drinks and Dairy)
  • Technology
  • Telecommunications

“In the midst of international trade tensions, we are sending today a strong signal with our Mercosur partners that we stand for rules-based trade,” said president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. “Through this trade pact, Mercosur countries have decided to open up their markets to the EU. This is obviously great news for companies, workers and the economy on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Benefits for trade show organisers and exhibitors 

In operational terms, trade show organisers and their exhibitors will benefit from simplified border checks, weaker or less abundant red tape and limited export taxes put in place by Mercosur countries. Companies on both sides will also benefit thanks to a new online platform providing easy access to all relevant information – a boon for the smaller companies that typically populate trade show floors.

The deal was reached under the new association agreement, composed of political cooperation and trade pillars. This means it will also enhance political dialogue and increase cooperation in areas such as research and education, migration and the digital economy, among others, increasing possibilities for private sector cooperation at multilateral level.

There was obviously something in the air last month, because on the note of accords struck between associations, I was interested to hear recently by that the AIPC (The International Association of Convention Centres), ICCA (The International Congress and Convention Association) and UFI (The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry) are forging an alliance to boost collaboration and generate more comprehensive benefits for their respective members.

It’s certainly a good time for international trading unions.

(For most of us.)