EU-Latin America summit opens with call for trade liberalisation
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero opened a summit of EU and Latin American leaders on Tuesday with a call for more open trade between the two regions.
"In an increasingly globalised world where the source of prosperity lies in uniting efforts, the capacity for economic growth lies in openness and liberalisation" and not in protectionism and closed borders, he told the Madrid summit.
Zapatero, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said the EU and Latin America are are "global partners facing global challenges."
EU president Herman van Rompuy told the heads of state and government that the two regions have seen an "increasing convergence of interests and values."
Hours earlier, six Central American nations reached the first ever free trade deal with the EU.
And late on Monday, the EU and the four-nation South American trading bloc Mercosur agreed to resume talks on a free trade agreement, despite opposition from a number of European nations led by France.
Spain, which has close ties with its former colonies in Latin America, hopes the summit will be a high point of its EU presidency, which it holds through June.
© 2010 AFP