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EU Spanish Presidency very pleased with the agreement reached with Central America

The EU Spanish Presidency has declared its satisfaction with the trade agreement reached with Central America and believes that this, together with other agreements signed with Peru and Colombia and the resumption of negotiations between the EU and Mercosur to establish a free trade zone, will mark the sixth EU-LAC summit as one of the most successful ever.

In the words of Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos: “The three great regional blocks (Central America, Andean Community and Mercosur) are now entering into an integrated relationship with the EU”.

According to the minister, trade relations are a fundamental part of the strategic association between the European Union and Latin America. He added that in spite of the current world-wide economic difficulties, the goals set by the Spanish government for its Presidency were being amply achieved.

Early Tuesday morning, the EU and six Central American countries successfully concluded negotiations on an association agreement, the most advanced type of agreement the EU can sign with a country or region. The agreements covers three chapters: trade, political dialogue and cooperation.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht and the trade ministers of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, all of whom took part in the latest round of negotiations, have declared their satisfaction with the agreement reached, which would "produce an ambitious, extensive and balanced commercial basis for the Association Agreement”.

The agreement, on which negotiations began in 2007, will be formally announced at the close of the EU-Central American summit to be held in Madrid on Wednesday. Trade agreements with Peru and Colombia, liberalising trade in sectors such as industrial products, agriculture and fishing, services and investment, and encompassing cooperation and political dialogue on human rights, will also be signed during the three-day summit.

The EU had originally planned to sign a broad agreement of association with the Andes Community (which also includes Ecuador and Bolivia) but as a result of the breakdown of negotiations in 2008, a new mandate for dialogue agreed on separation of subject and geography. In this framework "multiparty" trade negotiations were pursued with Peru and Colombia, leading to an agreement last March after nine separate rounds of negotiation.

On Monday, at the close of the UE-Mercosur summit, it was announced that trade talks with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, suspended in 2004, would resume.

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