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European Union and Central America for Partnership in 2009

Inside Costa Rica | 27 Jan 2009

European Union and Central America for Partnership in 2009

Brussels — The European Union (EU) and Central America started on Monday the sixth round of negotiations for a Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the commitment to speed up the process so that it can be signed in 2009.

The agreement includes a Free Trade Agreement between the parties, according to official sources.

The meeting has been positive and we agreed on the need to speed up mechanisms, said Salvadorian Minister of Economy Ricardo Esmahan at the end of a gathering with his Central American peers and European Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton.

Guatemalan Economy Minister Romulo Caballero is optimistic about the meeting Jan 26-30 because Ashton showed sensibility and knowledge of Central American reality, he said.

This has been uncommon in relations between the blocs, noted Caballero.

In his opinion, the trade issue is resolved in a 90-95 percent, with only certain outstanding aspects or items, including the banano and the Central American integration through a customs union.

The AA talks started in October last year in Costa Rica, with both regions striving to complete them in mid 2009, so that it can come into effect in 2010.

The current meeting is being attended by more than 300 delegates and representatives of social organizations, who will also take part in the third EU-Central America private sector forum in Brussels.

 source: ICR