Trade Agreements with Latin American Countries
The EU has concluded comprehensive preferential trade agreements with Central American (CA) countries and the Andean Community (AC). Despite significant asymmetries in terms of the timing of the respective commitments, these agreements include provisions that significantly eliminate and/or reduce both tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and promote stringent norms concerning human rights. Even though these trade partner countries have a relatively small market size, these agreements mobilized few but important exporting interests in the EU. More specifically, European producers and investors supported these trade deals with a view to level the playing field with their US counterparts, which had increased market access to these sets of countries thanks to the trade agreements signed with the US a few years earlier. Due to the low levels of integration of both CA countries and the AC, the political role of EU import-dependent firms remained marginal throughout these negotiations. While European farmers voiced their strong opposition to the prospect of an EU–MERCOSUR (Mercado Común del Sur) trade agreement, they did not mobilize to oppose EU trade agreements with these other Latin American countries. Opposition to these agreements mainly materialized in the form of concerns raised by some NGOs and trade unions over the human rights, environmental and labour rights implications of these agreements. However, the inclusion of a wide set of provisions dealing with these issues in the negotiating position of the EU was successful in diffusing this opposition over time.
KeywordsCentral America Andean Community domino effect European exporters civil society organizations
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