Peru’s García urges Ecuador and Bolivia to hop aboard EU free trade talks or risk missing the train

President Alan García set speedy passage of a free trade pact and overcoming a quarrel within the Andean bloc about the rhythm of negotiations with Europe on Thursday as he inaugurated the EU-Latin American summit.

“It is necessary to accelerate the signing of a free trade agreement between the Andean Community of Nations and the European Union, but respecting the priorities of each of the Andean countries,” García told a conference of business leaders.

García also suggested the Andean governments’ differences should be “put aside,” and refrained from responding to accusations made by his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales on Wednesday that Peru wants to exclude Bolivia from the free trade talks.

Instead, he insisted stagnated talks could be revived, with the Andean bloc nations moving as one toward an agreement “together.” Although his neighbors may have different priorities and economic capacities, he argued, all are in need of European capital.

Morales and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, both of whom are attending the alternative third People’s Summit, being held at the National Engineering University in northern Lima, have complained that Peru and Colombia are moving ahead too quickly with FTA negotiations with Europe.

Time being money, García on Thursday urged his two Andean counterparts to put aside their leftist ideology and get back on track. “If one begins to debate about philosophical issues and economic issues, possibly you’ll miss the train,” he said. “Other countries will hop aboard that relationship with the European community.”

García also called on the EU to reconsider what he described as harsh and almost unsatisfiable conditions demanded as a precondition for a deal.

Garcia added that he hoped, in the short term, to formalize an FTA with Mexico. He also mentioned having his mind set on concluding treaties with countries such as Canada, Singapore and China. The latter, he said, has “an extraordinary and exemplary economy that will be an enormous impulse for the development of both countries.”

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