By John Quigley
Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Ecuador may rejoin Peru and Colombia in talks toward a free-trade agreement between the Andean nations and the European Union, Peruvian Foreign Trade Minister Martin Perez said.
Ecuador, which abandoned the talks in 2008, will probably rejoin negotiations in the “coming weeks,” slowing efforts to reach an agreement with the EU, Perez said today.
“This could delay the whole negotiation process,” Perez said in a speech to business executives in Lima. “We’ll have to become a bloc and that will cause certain delays in the implementation and activation of the accord.”
Peru’s government wants to complete free-trade agreements with the EU, Japan and South Korea this year, leaving the Andean country with about 95 percent of its exports covered by free trade accords, Perez said. Negotiations with South Korea could be concluded within 90 days, he said. Peru’s free trade agreement with China may take effect next month, he said.
Peru’s exports declined 14 percent to $26.6 billion in 2009, the best performance among the biggest Latin American economies, Perez said. The region’s exports fell 23 percent to $673 billion last year, he said.
The South American country is seeking to expand trade ties with Mexico and Brazil to spur exports by small and medium-sized producers, Perez said.