Mercosur approves Palestinian free trade deal

AP News
Posted: Dec 20, 2011 5:23 PM
Mercosur approves Palestinian free trade deal

The Mercosur trade group of four South American nations has signed a free trade agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

It's the first trade deal between the Palestinian territories and a bloc of nations outside the Arab world.

But the deal is mostly symbolic because Israel strictly controls imports and exports involving the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestinian officials praise the deal as a step toward peace, but complain that Israel is holding back their economy.

Israeli officials call it counterproductive to Mideast peace, but say they'll respect the decision of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.