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EU-Central America Association Agreement Promotes Sustainable Development

29 June 2012: The EU signed a comprehensive Association Agreement with six Central American countries, namely Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

The Agreement was signed on 29 June 2012, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, during the Meeting of Presidents of the Central American Integration System (SICA), by EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministers of the six Central American countries.

The Agreement has three complementary pillars, namely political dialogue, cooperation and trade. The EU notes that the objective of sustainable development is embedded in each section. Part II on political dialogue includes an article calling for exchanging information and encouraging initiatives on local and global environmental issues, particularly regarding: climate change; biodiversity conservation; REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries); protection of hydro and marine resources; basins and wetlands; research and development (R&D) on alternative fuels and renewable energy technologies; and the reform of environmental governance.

Part III on cooperation includes a Title III devoted to environment, natural disasters and climate change. The article on disaster management calls on Parties to cooperate in reducing the vulnerability of Central America to natural disasters through supporting national efforts and the regional framework. The rest of Title III calls for the protection and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems, including: forests and fisheries; sound management of waste, sewage and chemicals; climate change mitigation and adaptation, including strengthening carbon market mechanisms; ozone layer depletion; biodiversity conservation and biosafety; land-use management; and sustainable production and consumption patterns, including through the sustainable use of ecosystem services and goods.

Part III includes provisions for cooperation and technical assistance on trade-related aspects, such as: promoting fair and ethical trade schemes, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and accountability initiatives and related labeling and marketing initiatives; promoting trade mechanisms to implement current and future climate change regimes; and strengthening implementation and enforcement on multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). Part III also calls for cooperation on, inter alia: sustainable and renewable energy; sustainable tourism; mining; fisheries; organic goods; food safety; and technology transfer.

Part IV on trade includes a title (VIII) on trade and sustainable development on: the right to regulate; the relationship with International Labour Organization (ILO) standards; the relationship with MEAs; trade favoring sustainable development; trade in forest products; trade in fish products; updating measures to take into account scientific and technical information; a sustainability review of the Agreement; and establishment of a monitoring mechanism.

The Agreement will take effect once ratified by all parties. [EU Press Release] [EU Summary of the Agreement] [Text of the Association Agreement]