EU – Central America Summit Review

The Madrid summit witnessed the official closing of trade negotiations between the EU and the Central American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama.

Heads of state signed off on the “trade pillar” of the association agreement today. In a joint statement, leaders said that they had achieved “an ambitious, comprehensive and balanced” outcome.

The trade deal will include “100 percent market opening for industrial products on both sides,” the statement said. The agreement will also allow European cars to enter the Central American countries’ markets free of tariffs over a ten-year period. New quotas will be implemented for trade in beef and rice, allowing more of each product to enter the European Union.

The negotiations have closed, but the proposed deal must overcome several more hurdles before it can take effect – namely, it has to be approved by the European Council, the European Parliament, and legislatures in each of the Central American countries.

“It’s really difficult to say” when the deal might actually take effect, said Kerwien, the Commission press officer. “The first thing the [European] Parliament has to vote on is the Korea deal,” she noted, referring to the free trade agreement with South Korea that has been signed, but has yet to be ratified. “Once this has been done, we will see what the general mood is. If all goes well for Korea, I don’t think that there are major problems for Central America,” she said.

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