The Mercosur, a leading trading bloc of four South American nations, has signed a landmark free trade agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
On Tuesday, PA Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki and the foreign ministers of the member states of the trade group, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, signed the deal during the organization’s presidential summit in Montevideo, Uruguay.
"We hope that (the Mercosur countries) can help us end the suffering of the Palestinian people," Maliki said at a ceremony broadcast by the office of Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica.
The Mercosur countries along with Venezuela, which is currently in the process of joining the economic bloc, have all recognized the Palestinian state.
The Palestinian Authority has free trade agreements with the European Union, Turkey, and Arab League countries.
According to officials, diplomats from Mercosur and the Occupied Palestinian territories have been negotiating the agreement for a year.
The bloc’s combined market encompasses more than 250 million people and accounts for more than three-quarters of the economic activity on the continent.
Before this historic agreement, only one member of Mercosur, Argentina, had trade agreements with the Palestinians.