Champagne's team says Mercosur talks could begin in earnest in the next 10 days
Canada's minister of international trade marks an important step forward in Canada's trading relationship with one bloc of countries today, while looking to start a new deal with another.
Francois-Philippe Champagne is in Chile to sign the the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership,
Even without the United States, the deal will cover markets reaching nearly 500 million people, making it one of the globe's three largest trade agreements, according to Chilean and Canadian trade statistics.
As CBC previously reported, Canada's delegation will be boarding a plane after signing the CPTPP and flying over the Andes to Asuncion, Paraguay, to launch free trade talks with the Mercosur bloc.
Mercosur was formed in 1991 by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. It is the largest trading bloc in this hemisphere after NAFTA — and it's growing, with Bolivia in the process of joining. Venezuela is also a member but is currently suspended because of the collapse of democratic institutions in that country.
Brazil is the giant of the bloc, with a population of more than 200 million and a gross domestic product 25 per cent bigger than Canada's. Argentina is home to 44 million people; it has the highest per capita income in Latin America and a large middle class.