The Netherlands and the EU must seize opportunities in Latin America
‘Latin America’s increasing geopolitical influence and economic growth open up political and economic opportunities for the Netherlands and other EU member states. The EU and Latin America share common values such as fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law, and should therefore work together to promote human rights worldwide. We should also work together on international peace and security.’ Foreign minister Frans Timmermans delivered this message on arriving in Santiago de Chile to attend the EU-LAC Summit on sustainable development. This two-day conference brings together heads of state and government from all EU, Latin American and Caribbean countries.
‘EU countries must make every effort to recover from the economic crisis,’ said Mr Timmermans. ‘We need to focus on new markets and regions experiencing growth. The EU is the world’s biggest regional trade bloc and by far the biggest investor in Latin America. But more can be achieved. Europe and Latin America need one another and this offers opportunities for the Netherlands and also for Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten – the three Caribbean countries that are part of the Kingdom. The fact that the Netherlands is a neighbour of Latin America gives it greater access to the continent.’
Latin America accounts for 13% of global GNP. The Netherlands is among the top three destinations for exports from the region. Imports from Latin America are worth €12.7 billion, and our exports to it are worth €6.4 billion. No EU country invests more in Latin America than the Netherlands.
The summit will adopt a declaration and action plan aimed at greatly strengthening the ties between EU and Latin America in the years ahead. During the negotiations the Netherlands focused on human rights, non-proliferation and anti-protectionism. The action plan aims to step up cooperation on issues such as sustainable development, regional economic integration, climate and the environment, counter-narcotics and migration.
In the run-up to the summit, meetings were held with members of the judiciary, media, trade unions, NGOs, academics, businesses and economic affairs ministers.