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EU demands greater unity from Latinamerica

Friday, May 12th 2006 - 21:00 UTC
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European Union leaders expressed in Vienna concern at mixed signals from Latinamerica and have asked for a “common strategic vision” to develop the full potential of partnership.

"If we want to fully develop the potential of our partnership we also need to know what is your strategic vision", said the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso.

Bolivia's nationalisation of its gas sector and a planned new Venezuelan tax on oil firms has dominated the agenda EU-Latinamerica leaders' summit.

But with some Latin American and Caribbean nations keen to expand trade, the European Commission president urged the nations to present a common vision.

Some countries like Chile and Colombia, favour free market economics and are keen to attract investment from Europe, but others led by Venezuela and Bolivia, are moving towards greater state control of their economies.

The tensions between the two positions surfaced at the summit, with Mexican President Vicente Fox warning counterparts that governing by populism "hinders meeting the challenges we have".

The EU and the Central American countries of Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and El Salvador are expected to announce an agreement to start talks on a free trade zone.

But moves to draw the EU closer to the Andean grouping of nations and the Mercosur common market in South America are proving far more difficult. Hopes for a breakthrough in trade relations took a blow this year after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez decided to withdraw from the Andean grouping.

Categories: Mercosur.

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