08/09/2011 07:03 EDT | Updated 10/09/2011 05:12 EDT

Stephen Harper In Brazil: Free Trade Talks With Mercosur Move Forward


SAO PAULO - Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in Brazil's financial centre of Sao Paulo today to give a luncheon speech to business and political leaders.

He said Monday that Canada is in the early stages of free-trade talks with a South American economic bloc called Mercosur, that includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The Conservative government has sought to expand trade opportunities with countries across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Already, Brazil is Canada's 10th largest trading partner and some 400 companies operate there.

From Sao Paulo, Harper heads to Colombia on the next leg of his four-country Latin American swing.

Canada signed a free-trade deal with Colombia that comes into effect next week.