Leaders from the European Union and the Community of Latinamerican and Caribbean States concluded on Sunday a two-day summit with pledges of boosting bilateral trade and while few concrete details were released, the two economic blocs expressed a clear wish for stronger ties.
Chilean President Sebastian Piñera closed the weekend summit in Santiago by urging the EU and Latin America to join forces for a better future.
When one half of the world is living in a recession, the other half can't sustain its own economic growth, said Piñera. Now is the time to act to transform good intentions into results, he added.
His words echoed many of the speeches made there by leaders from the EU and CELAC.
The representatives from the 61 countries in attendance agreed to a stronger alliance which would support economic growth and job creation with an eye on sustainable development.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who garnered much of the spotlight in Santiago as one of the EU top leaders, emphasized that the debt-stricken EU had much to gain from trade with Latin America, where growth remains steady.
This is now a strategic relationship between equal partners, she said, adding that her Europeans partners must continue regaining confidence from investors.
The most important thing for countries here is that they have the impression that we in the Euro zone are overcoming the crisis together, and not leaving some countries hanging.
However the German leader also underlined that ”no one should think that (current economic) difficulties can get better through protectionism. She added “the cooperation should be guided by values and principles and without commercial barriers, even in hard times.
Merkel, the first German chancellor to visit Chile in 22 years, invited Latin American countries to invest in Europe: We're open.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called for deeper and balanced ties between the EU and CELAC. Describing Latin America as one of the engines of world growth Ayrault expressed hope that the regions would capitalize on their complementarity.
Both blocs called for a speedy conclusion of a free trade pact. Negotiations have so far stumbled over differences on agriculture, notably Europe's subsidies to its farmers, which undercut Latin America's products.
The EU and CELAC are scheduled to meet again in Brussels in 2015.
The CELAC delegations are scheduled to hold their own summit in Chile on Monday, during which Cuba will take over the body's chairmanship as Chile's term concludes.