Latin America wants to build an equal relationship with the EU, according to a former president of Colombia.
Ernesto Samper, who led Colombia from 1994 to 1998, told RockedBuzz via Euronews that relations based only on trade are unlikely to be satisfactory and that more will be needed.
“If the interest is purely commercial, it probably comes too late. Latin America is interested in a political relationship with Europe,” he said.
“We are interested in talking about drug policy. We are interested in talking about how the resources that are appearing today, such as lithium, which could be decisive in the technological race, will be guaranteed.
“These issues interest us, but we cannot hold a summit to talk only about free trade, among other things because Europe is the most protectionist region in the world”.
The comments come as the EU looks once again to Latin America, after years of neglect.
Russia’s war in Ukraine and China’s growing influence in the region have forced Brussels to seek closer ties.
Europe sees these as reliable partners it can rely on to reduce its dependence on, for example, key minerals such as lithium.
This is despite the fact that countries including Brazil and Colombia have opted for a rather neutral role in the war.
“Does this mean that there are things we don’t agree on? Yes, of course,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, told a news conference in Brussels on Wednesday.
“That in the specific case of Ukraine there have been countries that have expressed opinions that do not always coincide? Yes, of course.
“But look at the vote in the United Nations. Compare how Latin America voted in the United Nations with any other region in the world to see that in Latin America the rejection or condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was greater than elsewhere. “
Latin America is rich in strategic raw materials essential for the energy transition, such as lithium, used in batteries.
But this is not the only element at play in the commercial relationship. An important trade agreement with the Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) remains awaiting ratification, which will be discussed at the first summit in eight years between Latin America and the EU which will take place in Brussels in mid-July.