Mexico is leaning to Europe. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s February visit to Mexico City spurred Mexico’s President Vicente Fox to declare his hope that the trade deal signed by Mexico and the European Union would rival the North American Free Trade Agreement (nafta) between Canada and the United States.
Under its current six-month presidency of the EU, Spain has set a prime goal of expanding the EU’s political and economic relations with the South Atlantic continent. This May, the Spanish city of Madrid will host a meeting of heads of state and government from the Caribbean, Latin America and EU member countries.
This meeting will build on a foundational relationship between the Latin American and Caribbean region and the EU, forged at the first such conference held in 1999 in Brazil. At that conference the groundwork was laid for general economic cooperation and political dialogue on a wide agenda including the concepts of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
The theme of the Madrid conference will be increasing regional cooperation in trade and integrating various EU initiatives into Latin America.
The EU is worried that any success experienced by nafta penetration into Latin American markets would threaten its own industries expanding into this huge potential market.
Latin America is unique in that it is the only continent bound by a single language, Spanish (though related Portuguese is spoken in Brazil), and a common Catholic religion. These are two powerful connections with the continent of Europe that will tend to draw Latin America increasingly away from trade with North America and into the EU camp.