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The European Union and the Andean Community (Comunidad Andina de Naciones or CAN) have been working towards a bilateral trade and investment pact since 1993, when they first signed a Framework Cooperation Agreement. In Rome in 2003, ten years later, they signed a joint commitment to formally enter into an Association Agreement, “including a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).” This was reaffirmed at the highest political level in Guadalajara in 2004. In May 2006, both sides agreed to initiate the negotiating process as soon as possible. The Andean Community is composed of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. (Venezuela withdrew in 2006.)

In April 2007, the EU adopted its negotiating mandate for the process. The draft is available here. Negotiations started in May 2007. Three rounds of negotiations have taken place so far. The second round was held in Brussels in December 2007 and the third in Quito in April 2008.

The fourth round was suspended in the face of opposition from the Bolivian and Ecuadoran governments, causing a great deal of tension within CAN.

Confronting this set of circumstances (cancellation of the fourth round of negotiations), Andean and European social organizations issued the following statement: “Under these conditions, we hold that it is politically unviable and economically unwise to continue the negotiations while the situation described remains in effect. The governments of Colombia and Peru must listen to the demands of their civil society organizations and of the presidents of Bolivia and Ecuador, which call for reorienting the direction, content, and conduct of the negotiations with the European Union. If the existing negotiating framework remains in place and the political situation of CAN is not given due recognition, this integration process will be further weakened, and once again the governments will be acting with disrespect for civil society and its rights”.

In the EU’s conception, the Association Agreement has three components: an FTA, a cooperation agreement, and a forum for political dialogue. However, the EU’s prime concerns are clearly the FTA and the opening of markets for European corporations (even in areas of “cooperation”).

According to GRAIN’s analysis, the objectives pursued are: reduction of taxes on foreign business activity, including import and export tariffs; opening up the country to uncontrolled trade flows; changing quality standards and technical standards; simplifying and restricting the use of sanitary and phytosanitary measures; providing unrestricted access to raw materials, especially minerals; “maximum possible protection” for intellectual property rights; opening up of all economic sectors and aspects of national life to European investment; direct or indirect privatization of all public services and government-owned corporations; obligation on the part of governments to put all procurement and contracts out to international tender; elimination of policies and programs to support and protect economic activities and domestic products.

After Bolivia and Ecuador refused to sign an FTA, the EU continued negotiations bilaterally with Peru and Colombia. In April 2011, Colombia signed onto a text with the EU and the deal with Peru is in force on a provisional basis even though both await ratification by the European Parliament. I the meantime, Ecuador, which upholds an anti-FTA position, continues having conversations with the EU towards a possible agreement.

last update: May 2012
Photo: EU Trade/Twitter

CAN intensifies preparations for the third round of CAN-EU negotiations
The Andean Community Member Countries intensified their preparations this week for the Third Round of Negotiations for the establishment of an Association Agreement with the European Union, which will be held this coming April 21 to 25 in Quito
Ecuador exporters warn increased duties could derail FTA
Ecuador’s Federation of Exporters warned Friday that the country’s recent increases in import duties will negatively affect negotiations on a free trade agreement between Andean countries and the European Union.
Bolivia for sovereignty in EU talks
The Bolivian Deputy Minister of Economic Relations and Foreign Trade Pablo Guzman said that his country will demand sovereignty of natural resources, public services and intellectual property in its negotiations with the European Union.
CAN, EU begin talks toward free trade and association
Negotiators from the four CAN nations — Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia — and from the EU will meet all week in Bogota to talk about goals, procedures, timetables and negotiation terms.
Venezuela opposes free trade agreement between CAN and European Union
Chavez warns CAN to reject a free-trade agreement with the European Union (EU) as unacceptable in the present circumstances. The Bolivian President has told Chavez that he agrees and cannot accept the free-trade agreement with the EU.
Bolivia intent on commercial suicide?
The Bolivian government is committing “commercial suicide,” said the Bolivian chamber of exporters, saying it was “one of the most unfortunate steps in the recent history of integration.” Yet all the Bolivian Government had done was explain that, in negotiations for an Association Agreement with the European Union, it was not prepared to negotiate away State control on issues of intellectual property, state purchases or procurement, international arbitration of investments and public services.
Bolivia offers compromise at trade summit
Bolivia’s willingness to bend its anti-globalization stance allowed Andean leaders work out a common stand on a trade deal with the European Union at a summit here Thursday.
Ecuador to mediate Andes for EU deal
Ecuadorian chancellor, Maria Fernanda Espinosa affirmed that her country will mediate differences within the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) prior to the upcoming summit.
Declaration of Andean and Latin American social movements on the EU-CAN Association Agreement
The movements and social organizations of Bolivia, countries of the Andean region and of Latin America feel deeply concerned about the consequences that an Association Agreement between the Community of Andean Nations (CAN) and the European Union (EU) could have for our peoples, which in its trade component includes a Free Trade Agreement, very similar to the FTAA (ALCA) that we buried only recently.
EU to start negotiations for Association Agreement with the Andean Community
The EU and the Andean Community announced yesterday in Santo Domingo their intention to start negotiations for an Association Agreement in the margins of the next EU-Andean Community Joint Committee that will be held in La Paz at the end of May 2007.


  • Justice for Colombia
    Justice for Colombia, with the support of the UK and European trade union movement, is campaigning to stop the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Colombia.