Arab Today, arab today latam american european leaders wrap up chile summit
Last Updated : GMT 17:07:25
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LatAm American, European leaders wrap up Chile summit

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Arab Today, arab today LatAm American, European leaders wrap up Chile summit

Santiago - AFP

Latin American and European leaders wrapped up a two-day summit in Chile Sunday with an agreement to boost bilateral trade but the gathering was overshadowed by a nightclub fire that killed at least 232 people in south Brazil. \"It\'s a tragedy for all of us, and I cannot continue here at the summit, because my priority is the Brazilian people,\" President Dilma Rousseff, a key participant, told reporters as she cut short her visit to head home. Shortly after the Brazilian leader departed, the summit of the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) closed, with representatives of 60 countries holding a minute of silence in honor of the victims of the tragedy in the Brazilian city of Santa Maria. In his closing statement to the meeting, the seventh for the two blocs, European Council President Herman van Rumpuy said the \"discussions have given new energy and momentum to our strategic partnership.\" Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, the summit host, also hailed a \"new strategic alliance to promote growth, create jobs and improve the quality of life\" of citizens. \"Now is the time to act to transform good intentions into results,\" he added. The next meeting was set for 2015 in Brussels. Europe sees Latin America as a promising outlet for products and a key supplier of mineral resources. The EU, the world\'s biggest economic bloc, is still reeling from severe financial crisis, while Latin America has posted growth rates averaging 4.5 percent. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, dubbed \"Europe\'s boss\" by the Chilean press, was the star of the summit, signaling her country\'s determination to flex her country\'s economic muscle in the region provided conditions are created to ensure unfettered free trade. The Europeans have pushed for the speedy conclusion of a free trade pact with South American trading bloc Mercosur, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. But negotiations have so far stumbled over differences on agriculture -- notably Europe\'s subsidies to its farmers, which undermine Latin America\'s efforts to sell its own products. Now the Europeans appear to be showing particular interest in four Pacific Rim countries seeking greater integration: Colombia, Chile, Peru and Mexico. Last June the four set up the \"Pacific Alliance\" in Chile, with the goal of boosting trade with the booming and resource-hungry Asia-Pacific region. \"Efforts at greater integration of the Pacific Alliance will strengthen its position regionally and internationally, which make them even more attractive partners for European countries,\" said van Rompuy. And Spain, suffering particularly from economic woes and high unemployment, said it was bidding to join the alliance, where it currently holds observer status. The Pacific Alliance has signed a host of trade agreements after liberalizing commerce with most major economies. The EU is Latin America\'s second biggest trading partner behind China and is the biggest outside investor in the region, accounting for three percent of direct foreign investment in CELAC or $385 billion in 2010. EU officials noted that the figure exceeds the combined investment in China, Russia and India. Monday, the 33 CELAC leaders will hold their own summit here, at which Cuba will take over the chairmanship from Chile for one year. They will discuss how to overcome their ideological and economic differences to foster greater regional integration. The Pacific Alliance has signed a host of trade agreements after liberalizing commerce with most major economies. The EU is Latin America\'s second biggest trading partner behind China and is the biggest outside investor in the region, accounting for three percent of direct foreign investment in CELAC or $385 billion in 2010. EU officials noted that the figure exceeds the combined investment in China, Russia and India. Monday, the 33 CELAC leaders will hold their own summit here, at which Cuba will take over the chairmanship from Chile for one year. They will discuss how to overcome their ideological and economic differences to foster greater regional integration.

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