PA, Mercosur sign free trade agreement

Venezuela joins Common Southern Market for singing free trade pact; Malki signs agreement in Uruguay.

PA's Malki (R), Brazil's Patriota (C), Uruguay's Almargo (L) (photo credit: Reuters/Stringer)
PA's Malki (R), Brazil's Patriota (C), Uruguay's Almargo (L)
(photo credit: Reuters/Stringer)
The Palestinian Authority signed a free trade agreement with the Mercosur trade group Tuesday during the organizations' presidential summit in Uruguay.
The agreement was signed by PA Foreign Minister Riad al Malki along with foreign ministers from Mercosur members Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador.
RELATED:South American countries recognize Palestinian state
Venezuela, waiting to join the Common Southern Market, also signed the agreement, according to AFP.
Diplomats have been negotiating the deal for at least a year.
According to Prensa Latina, the document was authored by Malki along with his counterparts Luis Almargo of Uruguay, Antonio Patriota of Brazil, Hector Timerman of Argentina, and Jorge Lara of Paraguay.
Almagro, who headed the summit in the president's office in Montevideo, said the move would add an economic element to the bilateral diplomatic relations between the PA and South American countries.
Malki expressed appreciation over the deal, and told the South American foreign ministers that their efforts helped alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people and expedite the formation of a Palestinian state next to Israel, according to Ma'an news agency.
AFP noted that while all Mercosur members recognized a Palestinian state in the past year, only Argentina had substantial trade agreements with the PA.
Mercosur also has a free trade agreement with Israel.