EU signs association agreement with six C American states
By Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt | Friday 29 June 2012
The European Union and Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama) signed an association agreement, on 29 June, consisting of three pillars: political dialogue, cooperation and trade. The trade part of the agreement will not enter into force before the end of the year or the beginning of 2013 at the latest, once the legislative procedure between the Council and the European Parliament has been concluded.
“The region-to-region trade deal will help to establish major business opportunities for both sides,” Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said. “European exporters will save around €90 million on customs per year and European service providers, such as telecoms and transport, will get greater market access,” he explained.
Once the agreement enters into force, the six Central American states will liberalise 69% of their existing trade in manufactured and agricultural goods and fisheries products with the EU, according to Commission figures.
The trade part of the agreement also provides for liberalisation of market access to government procurement, services and investment. However, access to public procurement markets in Central America depends on the levels of liberalisation obtained with the countries of the region, “Costa Rica and Panama opening their markets more significantly that other countries covered by the agreement,” the Commission explained.
In 2010, the EU was Central America’s second largest trade partner after the US, representing almost 9.4% of the trade flows. Bilateral trade in goods the same year was worth €12 billion.
Negotiations on the AA – which started in 2007 – were finalised in May 2010.