GUATEMALA CITY – Central America’s economic integration process has undergone various phases since its beginnings in the 1960s but is still alive and remains a goal so highly coveted by its members that British exit – “Brexit” – from the European Union will not cause it to falter.
“I don’t think there’s a danger of ‘Brexit’ making Central America question its interest in integration. This is a longstanding desire in the region, dating back since long before the EU existed,” the head of the Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (SIECA), Carmen Gisela Vergara, said in an interview with EFE.
Central America, a region that is rich in natural resources and strategically located, launched its roadmap toward greater union in 1960 with the General Treaty on Central American Integration and later continued that effort with the Protocol of Tegucigalpa and Protocol of Guatemala in the 1990s.
Since the outset, each generation has done its part to consolidate the integration project.
In addition to that long history, the interest shown by its members and the presidents of each country – Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama – over the past four years shows the integrationist vision still endures.
Vergara told EFE at her office in Guatemala City that she was confident the integration process would be completed shortly and also said that Belize and the Dominican Republic had shown interest in being incorporated as well.
Those two regional countries, which have been included in the political dialogues but not the economic talks, have been analyzing the pros and cons from both the public and private sector standpoints, according to Vergara, an expert in foreign trade, business development and negotiations.
Vergara recalled that the integration process was not halted even in the 1970s and 1980s when most of the region’s countries were embroiled in civil wars.
She said that as a fruit of that perseverance the countries have set a goal of forming a Central American customs union by 2024, while Honduras and Guatemala have already entered into a process of deep integration.