February 25, 2024

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The European Union seeks to revive relations between Latin America and the Caribbean while distancing itself from China and Russia

The European Union seeks to revive relations between Latin America and the Caribbean while distancing itself from China and Russia

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union pledged more investment to Latin America and the Caribbean at a summit on Monday, part of a renewal of its international relations fueled by Russia’s war in Ukraine and growing wariness of China.

As more than 50 leaders from the three regions gathered in Brussels for the two-day EU-CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) summit, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a business forum that Latin America and the Caribbean The Caribbean and Europe need each other more than ever.

“The world we live in is more competitive and conflictual than ever before. The world continues to suffer the heavy toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the world is deeply affected by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” she said.

“And this is happening against the backdrop of China’s growing assertiveness abroad,” she added.

She said the EU plans to invest 45 billion euros in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of the Global Gateway scheme, which is widely seen as a competitor to China’s Belt and Road program for infrastructure investments.

But discussions over the summit statement highlighted differences over how to handle the war in Ukraine and Europe’s role in the slave trade.

The EU has said it wants a joint declaration condemning Russia, but knows it will be difficult to achieve. While most countries in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States supported a United Nations resolution in February calling for the immediate withdrawal of Russian forces, Nicaragua voted against it and Bolivia, Cuba and El Salvador abstained.

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Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has positioned himself as a neutral and potential peace broker.

Lula did not repeat his earlier criticism of the West for providing weapons to Ukraine, but said the war diverted resources from key priorities elsewhere.

“The war in the heart of Europe throws a blanket of uncertainty over the world and diverts resources that were needed for the economy and social programs to the purposes of war,” he said.

“The arms race is making climate change more difficult to tackle.”

replace Russia

The European Union is looking to forge new energy partnerships after severing ties with Russia, which was the bloc’s largest gas supplier before it invaded Ukraine in February last year.

It also wants to reduce its dependence on China and build new alliances to secure minerals essential for electric cars and a broader transition to a low-carbon economy, a supply chain dominated by China.

The European Union has admitted that it has sometimes neglected its partners in Latin America as China’s role in the region has increased. But now she is eager to get involved again.

All 60 leaders from member states of the two blocs have been invited to the summit, but the presidents of El Salvador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela are among those not expected to attend.

Although they are keen to invest in the EU, CELAC’s partners generally want the economic benefits of processing and producing lithium batteries or electric vehicles, rather than lower returns from charge metals to be processed elsewhere.

The European Union is pushing ahead with a trade agreement with Chile, the world’s largest copper producer and second-largest producer of lithium, and officials have said the agreement could go into effect next year.

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It is also seeking to open the trade deals it struck with Mexico in 2018 and with the Mercosur bloc made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay in 2019, although officials played down expectations of breakthroughs during the summit.

($1 = 0.8907 euros)

Additional reporting by Katharina Demonay, Tassilo Hamel, Marine Strauss and Belen Carino. Writing by Philip Blenkinsop and Andrew Gray; Editing by Barbara Lewis and Christina Fincher

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.