Conference on the Association Agreement between Central America and the European Union
On Monday, September 24, at the City of Knowledge Convention Center, officials of the European Union and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Panama conducted the Conference: “Association Agreement between Central America and the European Union: new business opportunities.”
The conference began with the welcoming remarks by Ricardo Endara, Director of the International Technopark of the City of Knowledge, who took the opportunity to highlight the networking that takes place on campus, especially with the European Union.
Mr. José Luis Martínez Prada, charge d’affaires of the Delegation of the European Union to Costa Rica and Panama, mentioned the meeting was given under the signature of the Global Association Agreement between the European Union and Central America (Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) signed on June 29. Mr. Martínez Prada trusts Panama will play an important role at a regional level and take advantage of the new opportunities created by this agreement.
The National Director of Export Promotion of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said that this initiative will help boost international business of small and medium enterprises with respect to the large market represented by the European Union. She also noted that many people will use this window to the international market and that it will result in successful business for the growth of the country.
Mr. Jorge Tulio González, Head of Business Intelligence at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, spoke about business relations between the European Union and Panama. He mentioned the E.U. plays an important role in international trade and praised the potential of Panama in agriculture and fisheries. He also highlighted the business opportunities in the field of exports such as super-fruits, processed fruits, organic products, among others.
Ms. Klara Kanska, Trade Advisor at E.U. Delegation for Central America and Panama, developed a general presentation on the Association Agreement between Central America and the European Union. She stated they are expecting the agreement to be ratified by the European Parliament and the Assemblies of Central American countries, for it to come into effect later this year or early next year. Ms. Kanska admitted that what generates more expectations about this agreement is the investment aspect since it generates more value to exports.
Ms. Ines Escudero, Programme Manager of the Export Helpdesk of the Directorate General of the European Commission Trade Department, gave a presentation about the Export Helpdesk: an online service, provided by the European Commission, to facilitate market access in particular for developing countries to the European Union. Ms. Escudero focused on what an entrepreneur needs to know to enter the European market and how to get the necessary information through the website: www.exporthelp.europa.eu
The association agreement between the two regions will help create significant business opportunities for both parties, allow open markets for goods, public procurement, services and investment. The benefits of this Agreement will increase the scope of trade relations between the two regions, within a stable and long-term framework. Furthermore, the agreement will strengthen the customs union between the countries of Central America, as it was negotiated from region to region, and contains commitments that apply to the entire Central American region.