Following yesterday’s signature of the EU Central America Association Agreement, Foreign Office Minister, Jeremy Browne, said:
“I am delighted that the EU and the countries of Central American yesterday signed the EU-Central America Association Agreement at their meeting of Heads of State in Tegucigalpa, paving the way for large parts of the Agreement to come into effect immediately. The UK has been a strong supporter of the Agreement from the start and I believe that it will help us to take forward our policy of re-engagement with Central America.
“The Agreement will bring many benefits for the countries of both Central America and the EU. It will strengthen political dialogue and co-operation on issues of common interest, as well as boosting respective trade flows and investments between the two regions. The immediate application of the trade elements of the Agreement will strongly support the UK’s own aim of increasing commerce with the region.
“The Agreement formalises the excellent political, cooperation and trade relations that exist between our two regions. It also reiterates the EU’s support for Central America, which dates back to 1984 and the start of the San Jose Dialogue that sought to resolve the region’s armed conflicts by means of negotiations. Since then the EU has continued to make a significant contribution to democratisation processes and the socio-economic development of Central America. This Agreement is an important statement of our shared commitment to those aims.”
The EU-Central America Association Agreement is between the EU and its Member States and Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Its objectives are to strengthen political dialogue and co-operation on issues of common interest, and boost respective trade flows and investments. When fully in force, it will replace the 2003 Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Central America.
EU Member States signed the Association Agreement in Brussels, prior to yesterday’s signing ceremony for Central American countries and the EU .
The parts of the Agreement in which the EU has competence, contained in Part IV, will be provisionally applied with immediate effect. Part IV provisions will facilitate the elimination of technical barriers to trade and the liberalisation of markets. Its aims are to eliminate high tariffs, tackle technical barriers to trade, liberalise services markets, protect EU geographical indications, open up public procurement markets, enshrine commitments on the enforcement of labour and environmental standards and offer effective and swift dispute settlement procedures.