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Latin America wants 'political relationship' with EU - former Colombian president

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, right, talks with Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva at the Moncloa palace in Madrid, Spain, April 26, 2023.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, right, talks with Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva at the Moncloa palace in Madrid, Spain, April 26, 2023. Copyright Manu Fernandez/AP Photo
Copyright Manu Fernandez/AP Photo
By Aida Sanchez Alonso
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The EU-Mercosur trade agreement has been on hold for a number of years now.


Latin America wants to build a relationship of equals with the EU, according to a former President of Colombia.

Ernesto Samper, who helmed Colombia from 1994 to 1998, told Euronews that relations based just on trade are unlikely to be satisfactory and that more will be needed.

"If the interest is exclusively commercial, it is probably coming too late. Latin America is interested in a political relationship with Europe," he said.

"We are interested in talking about drugs policy. We are interested in talking about how the resources that are appearing today, such as lithium, which could be decisive in the technological race, are going to be secured.

"These issues are of interest to us, but we cannot hold a summit to talk only about free trade, among other things because Europe is the most protectionist region in the world."

The comments come as the EU is once again looking to Latin America, after years of neglect.

Russia's war in Ukraine and China's growing influence in the region have forced Brussels to seek closer ties.

Europe believes that these are reliable partners it can count on to reduce its dependency, for example, on key minerals, such as lithium.

This is despite the fact that countries, including Brazil and Colombia, have opted for a rather neutral role in the war.

"Does that mean that there are things on which we disagree? Yes, of course," Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said at a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday.

"That in the specific case of Ukraine there have been countries that have expressed views that do not always coincide? Yes, of course. 

"But look at the vote in the United Nations. Compare how Latin America has voted in the United Nations with any other region of the world to see that in Latin America the rejection or condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been greater than anywhere else."

Latin America is rich in strategic raw materials essential for the energy transition, like Lithium, which is used in batteries.

But this is not the only element at stake in the trade relationship. A major trade agreement with the Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) is still pending ratification, which will be discussed at the first summit in eight years between Latin America and the EU will take place in Brussels in mid-July.

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