Central America and the European Union will begin negotiating an association agreement, which would include a freetrade agreement and increased political cooperation, in Brussels, Belgium, in June.
The decision was announced this week at a meeting between representatives of the two regions in Guatemala, according to Costa Rica’s Foreign Trade Ministry.
After months of controversy, the Presidents of Central America announced that each country will have its own negotiator for the negotiations, and they’ll take turns selecting the regional representative at each round of talks. That decision was a victory of sorts for President Oscar Arias, who insisted that Costa Rica should have its own negotiator, instead of relying on one regional negotiator (TT, Dec. 26, 2006).
The Costa Rican delegation in Brussels will be headed by Foreign Vice-Minister Edgar Ugalde, Foreign Trade Vice-Minister Amparo Pacheco and Costa Rica’s chief negotiator Roberto Echandi, who was involved in negotiations for the controversial Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA).
Plans for negotiations moved forward Monday after the European Commission approved the guidelines for negotiations.
Costa Rican business leaders are now being invited to voice their opinions on the association agreement during a process of “internal consulting.” The idea is to develop a “solid and articulated national position” before negotiations begin, President Arias said in a statement.