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BRASILIA, Oct 3 (Reuters) - European negotiators have presented their farm trade offer to South America's Mercosur bloc as part of talks for a trade pact they hope to complete by the end of this year, officials from both sides said on Tuesday.
Brazilian negotiator Ronaldo Costa Filho confirmed in a forum with business leaders that the European offers for beef and ethanol imports have been made, clearing the way for negotiations on two key products that had been stumbling blocks. He declined to give details of quota sizes because the offers were just made and are still subject to negotiation.
The European Commission, which negotiates on behalf of the 28 EU nations, had proposed including beef and ethanol in an offer to Mercosur in 2016, including a tariff-free 78,000-tonne annual allotment of beef.
However, both were removed because they were deemed too sensitive for beef-producing EU countries such as France and Ireland.
The current EU offer included poultry and other farm products, but not sugar, another product that has European producers worried over facing cheaper competition.
The Mercosur countries of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay had previously said an offer without beef in particular could not lead to a deal.
Last week, 11 EU nations led by France and Ireland proposed postponing the farm trade offer to Mercosur until rules can be agreed to avoid unfair competition. (Reporting by Anthony Boadle in Brasilia and Maximiliano Rizzi in Buenos Aires; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Jonathan Oatis)