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EC to negotiate Association Agreements with Andean Community and Central America


EC to negotiate Association Agreements with Andean Community and Central America

Tholen — The EU Commission notified its intention to begin negotiations for Association Agreements in the first quarter of 2007, which would gradually become free trade agreements with the Andean Community (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) and Central American countries (Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala). The commission underlines the following three facets of understanding between Latin America and Europe: political dialogue, cooperation and trade, which are also emphasized by the Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson: “These agreements will establish the foundations for deep trade and economic relations between the EU and the Andean and Central American countries. They will help build regional markets, attract investment and develop trade”.

The strategic objective of the Association Agreements has been confirmed at the EU-Latin America/Caribbean Summits in Madrid 2002, Guadalajara 2004 and Vienna 2006. However, this long-standing dialog could be broken because of the new demands on part of Ecuador before the WTO. Countries such as Colombia and Honduras expect to officially join this demand. But Mandelson argues that these demands are not compatible with the spirit of the Association Agreements, “if the threaten for this (banana) problem is not solved, it would be difficult, if not impossible to negotiate. It is not possible to litigate and negotiate to the same time”.

The second problem to solve for the Andean countries is the instability of their integration process. Venezuela’s withdrawal of the agreement implies new access conditions and new rules both for extra and intra-trade. In contrast, in July 2006 Venezuela signed the adhesion protocol with the MERCOSUR. Thus, this country expects to be included in the free trade negotiations that the EU began with the MERCOSUR. Venezuela’s adhesion was unanimously accepted by the Argentinian Congress today. The process still needs the ratiffication of the congresses of Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Background article: New position Ecuador threatens EU free trade agreement

Publication date: December 07 2006
Author: Jahir Lombana

 source: FreshPlaza