EU and Central America look to finish talks

April 23, 2010

European Union (EU) and Central American diplomats are pressing forward with the negotiation in Brussels of the association agreement between the two regions, hoping to finish talks in the coming days.

Still left to be defined are quotas regarding high priority products for Central America including rice, beef, sugar, rum and textiles, according to the Costa Rican daily La Nación.

The aim is to complete the talks in time for the May 18 summit between the two regions, which is seen as the last chance to finish the agreement before the terms of many key officeholders come to an end.

“The negotiation has progressed,” said Roberto Echandi, chief negotiator for Costa Rica, in a recent press statement. “Few issues remain and it is critical that we reach the balance this country needs.”

However, the trade talks have dragged on for years, slowed by a dispute over banana tariffs and conflicts within the Central American region. The European Union placed a condition on negotiations that required the Central American countries to improve regional integration and emergency preparedness before negotiations could progress.

If Europe and Central America are successful in the pending agreement, it will be the first of its kind negotiated between the European Union and a similar regional bloc, according to Echandi.

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