This week’s negotiations are key for the Central American region, as the fate of the so called ‘sensitive products’ will be defined.
The negotiation will begin with considerable differences in what each side has conceded so far. Central America has allowed immediate access for 3.116 tariff lines, 47.49% of the total, plus gradually removing tariffs on 3.445 lines. Europe offered immediate access to 8.845 lines, 90.94% of the total, plus gradually removing tariffs on 880 additional lines.
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A negotiation round for an association agreement between Central America and Europe starts this week, covering commercial aspects.
Pending topics include access for Central American agriculture products to Europe (banana and sugar) and sustainable development.
“In the latter, the EU wants to define productive and dignifying employment as one of the key aspects of globalization and international trade”, reported Prensalibre.com.
The new offer increases the quota for sugar from Central America that can enter the European Union without tariffs to 100,000 tons.
According to La Prensa Gráfica, the president of the Sugar Association of El Salvador, Armando Arias, indicated that "the Minister of the Economy said publicly that he knew–off the record-that the EU might offer up to 100,000 tons to Central America.”
The EU conditioned increasing sugar quotas on a wide list of benefits for dairy products, passing over ceramics and even services.
José Orive, Executive Director of Sugar Producers of the Central American Isthmus (AICA, acronym in Spanish) noted that: “Europe continues to be reluctant to change their position.”
In the proposal, dubbed "Five plus one", the country commits to making the necessary changes without economic integration with the region.
One of the changes would be the adoption of a unified tariff code with Central America.
"This proposal seems to have changed, at least partially, the posture of the European Union, who had initially conditioned Panama's participation in the Agreement to the country joining Sieca (Central American Integration System)", reported prensa.com.