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Mercosur could seek trade deals with Canada, Australia, New Zealand

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 27 (Reuters) - The South American trade bloc Mercosur could seek trade deals with Canada, Australia and New Zealand this year, an Argentine official said on Wednesday, as largest members Brazil and Argentina seek to open their economies.

Mercosur, which also includes Uruguay and Paraguay, is working with the European Union to finalize the political framework for a trade deal this year, at a time when the United States under Donald Trump has been shying away from trade.

"There is a possibility that Mercosur starts negotiations with Canada, Australia and New Zealand this year," Argentine Commerce Secretary Miguel Braun said at the Thomson Reuters Economic and Business forum in Buenos Aires.

"Integrating ourselves with these countries takes us in the direction we want to go," he said, pointing to developed economies with high salaries.

Argentina alone is seeking a trade agreement with Mexico, and Braun said it was also working on a trade agreement with Chile that would "deepen what we already have."

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said in New York last week that Santiago was finishing a trade liberalization agreement with Buenos Aires to boost trade and open opportunities for investors. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; Additional reporting by Dion Rabouin in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler)