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Argentina, Brazil Sign Trade Protection Agreement

Argentina and Brazil have signed a trade agreement that allows each side to protect its industries against imports from the other nation.

Officials from the two countries signed the deal Wednesday in Buenos Aires.

Under the new plan, when either country detects an influx of goods that hurt local producers, the affected companies must immediately negotiate the dispute.

Argentine officials have called for such measures to protect their industries from their larger counterparts in Brazil. They have applauded the deal.

But the head of the Brazilian Confederation of Industries criticized the deal, saying it presents "worrisome aspects." However, Brazilian Deputy Foreign Minister Samuel Pinheiro Guimaraes said the agreement will not hurt trade.

Argentina and Brazil are the largest members of the four-nation Mercosur trading bloc. Under the 1991 accord creating the bloc, the two countries, along with Uruguay and Paraguay, knocked down trade barriers, creating a common market.

Chile and Bolivia are associate members of Mercosur, the world's third-largest trading bloc.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.