Interview: LatAm-EU summit should boost regional integration, investmentSouce:Xinhua Publish By Thomas Whittle Updated 23/01/2013 8:35 pm in World / no comments
SANTIAGO, Jan. 22 — The re-launching of a strategic agreement between Europe and Latin America, and a spike in productive investment would be the best results of an upcoming summit between the two regions, a UN official said here Tuesday.
While the two regions have held meetings before, the first ever summit between the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union (EU) at the weekend in Santiago should promote those goals, Alicia Barcena, executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), told Xinhua.
The CELAC-EU summit promises to be different for two reasons, Barcena said. For the first time, Latin America will speak with one voice through CELAC.
The 33-member regional bloc CELAC, which was created in February 2010, is aimed at deepening Latin American integration and to reduce the increasing influence of the United States on the politics and economics of Latin America.
“We have a community that has united around a very pragmatic vision that will successfully move this new phase of integration forward,” she said.
Secondly, while Europe is suffering from a financial crisis, Latin America is enjoying an economic boon.
For example, the average unemployment rate in Latin America stands at 6.4 percent, compared with a staggering 25 percent in some EU countries, such as Greece and Spain, she said.
The summit should see both regions refocus their efforts on the Strategic Partnership, which has fallen short of expectations since its initiation in 1999, Barcena said.
Meanwhile, Barcena stressed the importance for Latin America to attract more investment.
“Everyone is aware that investment has to be increased to above the regional average of 27 percent of gross domestic product, and that today is between 22 and 23 percent,” she said.
However, she said the region would prefer investment in infrastructure and energy to investment in financial sectors.
As to bilateral trade, CELAC would prioritize trade in intermediate goods and services, rather than trade in finished products, Barcena said.
“Latin America has a lot to learn from Europe about how to build the value chains, and how to incorporate small- and medium-sized companies into large companies,” she said, adding such measures represent great opportunities.
Barcena regarded greater convergence between CELAC and the EU as a natural development.
She said the EU used to favor the Asia-Pacific region over Latin America. “It is returning to Latin America and the Caribbean because this is a region with many cultural similarities, and its population is fundamentally of European origin.”