During the V Round of the Association Agreement between Central America (CA) and the European Union (EU) the biggest advancement regarding trade was the EU's offer of making 94% of the products tariff-free. In return, the Eu demanded a similar opening by CA.
Difficulties in the negotiation were on topics such as rules of origin due to European fears of the triangulation of clothing from Asia, and the refusal of some CA countries to adhere to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
With regard to trade, the negotiations resulted in the inclusion of ethanol and shrimps in the European offer, and the consolidation of the SGP+ for CA. However, the CA's expectations to start negotiation on specific products was shot down with the EU request that CA offer an opening of at least 90% of its products. It is not impossible for the Isthmus to reach said level since it had already offered 85.6% to the Europeans...
Central American businessmen say that "there are still strategic interests in the region that have not been dealt with by European negotiators."
On day four of the XIV Central America planning session for the Association Agreement with Europe, Julio Aguilar, negotiator for the International Commercial Negotiations Business Center (Cencit), said that while Central America continues to broaden its offer to their European counterparts, not at more that 80% of the products on the tariff list, Europe has still not guaranteed the whether all the benefits derived from the General Preference System Plus (SGP Plus) will be maintained.
In negotiations on an association agreement with Central America, the European Union has improved its offer by proposing to increase the number of products that will enter Europe under the enhanced Generalized System of Preferences (GSP Plus).
Eduardo Cálix, El Salvador's deputy foreign minister and Central America's current regional spokesman on political matters, said that recognition of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was no longer an issue. The European Union would allow time so that each country's legislature can officially recognize the ICC's authority, he added.
If the European Union does not make more flexible its postures, Guatemala would request Central America to push back the signature of the agreement.
Economy Minister Rubén Morales stated that if the country does not receive more benefits than the current Generalized Preference System (SGP-plus), Guatemala could recommend against signing the agreement.
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