Chile summit shows limits of multilateralism

EU-Latin America summit promises multilateralism, but nations put own priorities first

Associated Press
Chile summit shows limits of multilateralism
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In this photo provided by the Brazilian Presidency, members of the CELAC-EU economic summit attend a plenary session in Santiago, Chile, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. Leaders from the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean are in the Chilean capital for the 60-nation, two day economic summit. (AP Photo/Brazilian Presidency)

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- A 60-nation summit wrapped up in Chile on Sunday with leaders from the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean renewing calls for giving investors "legal certainty" and dropping barriers to trade between economies that together represent a billion people and $280 billion in commerce.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera declared that much progress was made toward a new strategic alliance between the two continents. "I'm fully convinced that we've taken a huge step forward. But it's not enough. Now it's time to act, to translate good intentions and agreements into results," he said.

The key is to ensure that companies won't face shifting regulations if they make substantial long-term investments, said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso of Portugal.

"It's true that Europe is the largest trading partner for Latin America. But it's also true that we're seeing an increase in Latin American investment in Europe, where they are most welcome," he said. "Both sides need to provide legal certainty to companies investing in our economies."

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy says the benefits of the EU's free-trade deals with Colombia and Peru will soon be apparent, followed by freer trade between Europe and Central America. He also expresses optimism about a long-delayed treaty dropping trade barriers with South America's Mercosur trade bloc now that leaders of Brazil and Argentina have promised to submit new proposals this year.

He says the discussions in Santiago "have given new momentum to our strategic partnership."

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