Brussels, 15 January 2010
Benita Ferrero-Waldner to visit Central American countries to discuss trade and investment issues
EU Trade Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner will visit Central American countries from the 18 to 21 January on a trip that includes Costa Rica, Guatemala and El Salvador. She visits Central America to drive forward the negotiation process for an EU-Central America Association Agreement and to hold discussions on bi-regional trade and investment issues.
Speaking ahead of the trip, Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said: "In my last visit to Central America as European Commissioner my goal is to press ahead with negotiations with Central America, which will serve to establish a progressive region-to-region Association Agreement. Such an agreement will open new doors to our exporters, investors and consumers, who will enjoy better and cheaper products and services". And she added: " However, our objectives in these negotiations go beyond the commercial and economic aspects. Our joint objectives are to deepen our relations in all fields, and in particular to strengthen our political dialogue and our bilateral cooperation. And above all, the Association Agreement will help to deepen the partnership between Europe and Latin America."
The European Union is seeking to boost economic and political ties with Central America. The economic benefits of establishing closer economic ties with to Central America, however, are linked to a large extent to the creation of a regional market that is large enough to attract foreign trade and investment, which in a globalised world has become the engine of economic growth.
The conclusion last month of an agreement on the long-running banana dispute demonstrates the European Union's commitment to improving ties with Latin America and paves the way for finalising negotiations with Central America, with the aim of concluding these negotiations in time for the EU-Latin America Summit in Madrid on 18 May 2010.
In Guatemala on 18 January, Benita Ferrero-Waldner will meet the President of the Republic and Ministers for Economy and Foreign Relations.
While in El Salvador on 19 January, the Commissioner will hold meetings with the President of the Republic, the Minister of Economy and the Vice Ministers of Foreign Relations.
And in Costa Rica on 20 and 21 January, Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner will meet the President of the Republic and the Minister of External Trade. She will also have an opportunity to discuss EU-Costa Rica trade relations with representatives of the Costa Rican Chamber of Exporters.
In 2008 total EU imports from the Central America were approximately €4.46 billion, or 0.30% of all EU imports, comprising mainly of bananas, coffee and machinery and appliances. In 2008, EU exports to the Central America consisted mostly of machinery, transport equipment and chemicals, and totalled €2.23 billion.