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Reopening of trade negotiations between the EU and Central America within sight | 1 February 2010

Reopening of trade negotiations between the EU and Central America within sight

The elections and investiture of Porfirio Lobo as President of Honduras have cleared the way for the EU to restore normal relations with the Central American country and negotiations for signing a bi-regional Association Agreement may soon resume.

Central American trade negotiators and the European Commission will meet informally in Brussels from 1 to 3 February to take stock of the negotiations with a view to restarting them at the end of February.

The Spanish Presidency confers a strategic importance on the relations with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC countries) and hopes to end negotiations in time so that the Association Agreement between the EU and Central America can be ratified on 18 May in Madrid with the celebration of the 6th EU-LAC Summit.

The Association Agreement is the most advanced type of agreement the EU can sign with a country or region. It is offered to those partners with which the EU wishes to have closer ties based on mutual confidence and on shared values and principles.

The meeting in Brussels this week should prepare the ground so that the formal meeting of negotiators can be held at the end of the month. The three chapters of the agreement are trade, political dialogue and cooperation.

The Commission announced the suspension of the eighth round of negotiations last 1 July due to the political crisis in Honduras, after consulting with the governments of the Central American countries and with the agreement of the Member States.

The European Commission negotiates the Agreement with the governments of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua in the name of the Member StatesThe first round of negotiations took place in San José, Costa Rica, in October 2007. The eighth round should have taken place in Brussels from 6 to 10 July.

Panama, which participates in the negotiations as an observer, has asked the European Commission if it can form part of the Agreement.