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13 June 2007

The European Union wants to accelerate the negotiation of an WTO Plus agreement with Central America

Oxfam International, the International Federation for Human Rights -FIDH-, the

Coalition of the Flemish North-South Movement/-11.11.11-, the National Center of Cooperation for Development -CNCD/11.11.11-, Grupo Sur and the Copenhagen Initiative for Central America and Mexico -CIFCA-

Oxfam International, the International Federation for Human Rights -FIDH-, the

Coalition of the Flemish North-South Movement/-11.11.11-, the National Center of Cooperation for Development -CNCD/11.11.11-, Grupo Sur and the Copenhagen Initiative for Central America and Mexico -CIFCA-


We consider that the European Union doesn’t fulfill with its foreign relations duties that consists in promoting sustainable economical and social development for developing countries, fight against poverty - including the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)- established in the Article 177 of the Treaty on European Union and the European Consensus on Development of November 2005.

The European Union, on the initiative of the German presidency, has invited the Central American -CA- vice Ministers for Trade to come the next 15th of June in order to establish a dialogue with the European Commission, putting aside the previous requirements to establish a Central American trade and tariff barriers union, it seems that the EU would be satisfied with a mere framework agreement between the Central American Governments, to announce the starting of the negotiations of an EU-CA Association Agreement and a biregional Free-Trade Zone.

The EU, following its "Global Europe: competing in the world" strategy, includes through these Agreements the issues of investments, competition and government procurement - the so-called Singapore Issues-, as it has been made obvious with the exclusion of the explicit reference to the ILO Agreement n°169 on indigenous people that guaranty their autonomy and the obligation to consult them on policies or investments that could affect their rights, during the approbation by the Council of the EU of the negotiation mandate the last 23rd of April.

The E.U. is prioritizing the expansion of its own economic interests, setting apart an adequate acknowledgement of the asymmetries that would retain a correspondence with the reality of poverty and inequality that prevail in Central America. By this way, the Association Agreement will not contribute to reach Social Cohesion, considered as a priority for the EU cooperation strategy for the region.

The inclusion of the so-called Singapore Issues, excluded from the negotiations in the WTO since 2004, entails strict restrictions for each country to define its own development pattern, grants the European companies with the possibility to operate with the same equality conditions as local companies, putting the latest at a vulnerability level that brings effect on the development and the right to work at a national level ; shrinks the governmental capacity to guarantee the right to an healthy environment, the right to food and to ensure the right to health.

Moreover, the EU, with this kind of agreements would infringe the right to development of CA, and the adequate protection of its natural resources, it would affect the enjoyment of their rights by indigenous and afrodescendant people: it would affect the right of self-determination of the peoples to determine their own model of development.

In any case, and if the Agreement was to be negotiated, it should allow Central American countries and communities to preserve their sovereignty over their natural resources, including the continued use of restrictions on exports, investments and intellectual property rights claims. Therefore, legitimate domestic laws, regulations, policy instruments and standards aimed at protecting the environment and biodiversity, at promoting the sustainable use of natural resources or at preventing or mitigating global warming, should be excluded from the negotiations on ‘non-tariff barriers’.

For these reasons, as signing organizations, we urge the public opinion to ASK for the negotiations to be carried on in total transparency, substantial and relevant information, open participation of all the sectors that can be affected by the issues negotiated and reject contents and mechanisms that can violate human rights.

Should you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact us at:

Secretary of CIFCA

Tel: 32-(0)2-5361912, email: cifca@cifca.ngonet.be

Secretary of Grupo Sur:

Tel: 32 -(0)2- 5016765, email: grupo.sur@belgacom.net
Last Update 30 January 2008
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