European Union agrees to boost trade with Latin America

European Union agrees to boost trade with Latin America

BRUSSELS - Reuters
European Union agrees to boost trade with Latin America

People walk in front of flags of EU countries outside the Parliament in Brussels in this photo. The EU will boost ties with Latin American countries. AP photo

EU lawmakers approved free-trade accords with Colombia, Peru and six Central American nations on Dec. 11, giving them permanent access to the EU’s 500 million consumers and offering the EU’s stagnant economy new markets for its cars and luxury goods.

 Setting aside doubts about Colombia’s human rights record, the European Parliament in Strasbourg voted to allow the deals to come into force next year, building on the eight countries’ separate free trade agreements with the United States.

“At a time when our economy is struggling, it is vital that the EU forges stronger links with emerging economies,” said Catherine Bearder, a British liberal lawmaker who voted for the pacts.

 With global trade talks stalled, the European Union is trying to sign free-trade deals with fast-growing economies in Asia and Latin America, as well as with developed countries including Japan and the United States, to revive its economy. For Latin America, the accord means most of the region’s Pacific economies now have trade pacts with both the European Union and the United States. That deepens a divide between these nations and Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela on the Atlantic, which have been more reluctant to drop barriers to trade. The accords, signed in June, mark another step in Colombia and Peru’s efforts to modernize their economies after decades of militant- and drug-related violence.

They join Chile and Mexico as major Latin American economies seeing trade as their best chance to achieve sustained economic growth.