The European Union and the Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama have today (29 June) signed a comprehensive Association Agreement.
Michael Link, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement in Berlin to mark today’s signing of the Association Agreement in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa.
“I am delighted that relations between the EU and Central America have reached a new level with the signing of this Agreement. It was in 1984 that the EU established its first dialogue mechanism with Central America, a move due in no small part to Hans-Dietrich Genscher, the German Foreign Minister at the time. The San José Dialogue contributed to the spread of democracy in the region.
Today we are placing our longstanding political, economic and cultural relations on a new, broader foundation. The Agreement will significantly improve access to the European market for products from Central America. In addition, the text of the Agreement reflects our many shared values, above all with regard to democratic principles, respect for human rights and the rule of law. The Agreement will thus be a valuable reference document for these issues in the future.”
The negotiations on a comprehensive agreement between the EU and Central America began in October 2007 during Germany’s Presidency of the EU. The Agreement contains three separate parts on political dialogue, cooperation and trade. It also contains political avowals of respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The Agreement guarantees a transparent, non-discriminatory and predictable environment for European and Central American businesses and investors involved in mutual trade. Thanks to the reduction in import duties and increase in import quotas, the Central American countries will enjoy better access to the EU market. Studies undertaken for the EU Commission suggest that the economic benefit for Central America could amount to 2.6 billion euros.
The Agreement now has to be ratified by the EU, the EU member states and the Central American countries.