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Environmentalist organization COECOCEIBA – Friends of the Earth Costa Rica issued a statement on Tuesday against the signing of the Association Agreement between Central America and the European Union (AA).
This is a multilateral free trade agreement under negotiation since 2010 which has been ratified by the European Union and the Parliaments of Honduras, Panama and Nicaragua, while in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala it is still under discussion.
In the past weeks, the Costa Rican Foreign Trade Ministry, together with the agroindustrial Chambers and President Laura Chinchilla have pressured the Parliament to ratify the AA. For the environmental sector, this agreement will result in a worsening of social inequality, the displacement of peasants and land concentration in the region.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, COECOCEIBA stated: “Today, 7 years from the beginning of the implementation of the Central America, US and Dominican Republic FTA (CAFTA), it is more than evident that these opening policies only benefit a few: the transnational political-corporate sector”.
In Costa Rica, the social gap between the richest and poorest sectors is increasing in an accelerated way. In addition, this country is one of the few of the area where poverty is increasing as well.
Since September, 2011, COECOCEIBA has been pointing out how the most disfavored sectors were negatively affected by the CAFTA. According to the small rural farmers themselves, they couldn’t compete with imports with prices below the production costs.
The Costa Rican organization believes that the "agricultural sector, small farmers –peasenthood- is the most affected. (...) While national products are displaced, sectors such as animal breeders can’t sustain their livelihoods due to the fact that meat arrives in large quantities, emitting greenhouse gases to reach our country at prices even lower than production costs".
The Central America – European Union AA is no different from what is currently implemented with other free trade agreements. COECOCEIBA also stated that this new agreement "deepens the same economic model of commercial opening and displacement from the countryside". The new free trade agreement “has been presented as a new model, the emphasis is on the free market”. “The truth is that it is a sharper instrument to destroy national agriculture”, concludes the press release.
The AA is mainly promoted by agribusiness companies dedicated to banana, pineapple and African palm export. They are corporations questioned by their participation in a model based on monoculture plantations and landgrabbing. “An industrialized agrifood system dominated by transnational corporations that take over the market and leave no benefits for the country. On the contrary, they profit from food and poison and exploit lands, water and people”, reads COECOCEIBA’s press release.
* Article by Henry Picado, member of COECOCEIBA – Friends of the Earth Costa Rica and Real World Radio’s correspondent in that country.
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