Brazil president says EU-Mercosur deal to come into force in up to three years

(Reuters) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Sunday that it could take up to three years for the free-trade deal agreed by the European Union and South American bloc Mercosur to come into force, as it depends on approvals by lawmakers of all countries involved.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro speaks during a handover ceremony for Government Secretary Jorge Antonio de Oliveira Francisco at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

On Friday, EU and Mercosur concluded two decades of talks, committing to more open markets in the face of a rising tide of protectionism.

In an interview after his arrival from a trip to G20 in Osaka, Japan, Bolsonaro added he expected the Brazilian Congress to be one of the first to approve the EU-Mercosur treaty.

“(The deal) comes into force in one or three years, depending on the parliaments...Maybe ours will be one of the first to approve, I hope,” he told journalists when arriving in Brasilia.

Bolsonaro called his trip to G20 a “mission accomplished”, attributing the success to the fact that his ministers were chosen for technical reasons.

Since he took office on Jan. 1, his government has been struggling to get Congress to pass a bill to overhaul of Brazil’s social security system, shore up public finance and stimulate investment and economic growth.

His remarks come as hundreds protested on Sunday in various cities across Brazil in favor of the pension reform, the “Car Wash” corruption investigation, as well as Justice Minister Sergio Moro.

Moro, who as judge led the corruption trial that jailed former Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was caught in a scandal after leaked personal messages showed he advised prosecutors to influence public opinion against the leftist leader.

In Rio de Janeiro, hundreds of people gathered around Copacabana Beach, with some carrying Brazilian flags and others placards saying “In Moro We Trust”.

Asked about the demonstrations, Bolsonaro only said that “people have the right to protest”.

Reporting by Gabriela Mello in Sao Paulo, Ricardo Brito in Brasilia and Rodrigo Viga Gaier in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Lisa Shumaker