Fact sheet: Central America

(Source: EEAS)

Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama

EU-Central America Relations

The EU and Central America have maintained close relations for decades, reaching back to the EU’s support to the region’s peace process in the 1980s.

Our region-to-region political dialogue, growing trade relations and extensive cooperation illustrate the comprehensive partnership.

Relations between the EU and Central America are governed by the EU-Central America Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement and the EU-Central America Association Agreement of which the trade pillar is provisionally applied.

Trade

Trade flows between the EU and Central America amounted to over EUR 10 billion in 2020. In 2021, the EU was the 2nd most important export destination for Central America (after the US) and the 4th supplier (after the US, China, and Mexico).

Agricultural products represent over 60% of Central American exports to the EU. EU imports from Central America have remained resilient during the pandemic.

The main EU exports to Central America are: 1/ Products of the chemical or allied industries, 2/ Machinery and appliances, and 3/ Transport equipment.

This year we celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the signature of the EU-Central America Association Agreement. The first findings of the ex-post evaluation of the implementation of the trade pillar, to be completed this year, show positive economic results.

Cooperation

For the period 2014-2020 the EU allocated over EUR 500 million in bilateral cooperation funds to Central American countries and contracted EUR 180 million regional actions.

The EU remains committed to supporting inclusive and sustainable development in Central America with a strong green and digital focus. Support to strengthening democratic governance and institutions that deliver for citizens will be an indispensable part of the package. Additionally, specific attention to gender equality and engagement with Central American civil society actors will be mainstreamed throughout all programmes.

To this end, the EU in the coming years will allocate EUR 392 million in cooperation funds for 1/ regional actions Central America 2/ bilateral cooperation with Central American countries (Multi-Annual Indicative Programmes until mid-term review in 2024).

Humanitarian Aid

The EU is responding to urgent relief needs in Central America related to natural disasters, violence, food insecurity, the humanitarian consequences of forced displacement and disaster preparedness throughout the region.

For 2019-2021, the EU allocated EUR 44.1 million in humanitarian assistance in Central America. From the recurrent droughts in the Dry Corridor of Central America, the Dengue epidemic in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, to COVID-19, tropical storm Amanda in Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as hurricanes Eta and Iota in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

SICA

The EU is an observer and long-standing partner of the Central American Integration System (SICA)  that includes eight countries: Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

SICA was launched in 1993, and is the main body for regional integration and political cooperation in Central America.  SICA and its institutions offer an essential platform for Central American countries to broaden coordination and cooperation on vitally important issues such as climate change as well as to deepen economic integration.

Today, Central America is the most integrated region in Latin America and the Caribbean and expanding the process offers many opportunities for unlocking the region’s high potential.

Highlight: Digital Alliance

The EU is committed to modernising our partnership through the Digital Alliance with Latin America and the Caribbean. The extension of the BELLA submarine cable to Central America in the context of the Global Gateway strategy will facilitate high-speed access to the planned regional Copernicus data centre in Panama covering Central America and the Caribbean Stepping up cooperation on Earth observation through Copernicus will in turn support efforts to address climate change and environmental challenges in the region, and to enhance disaster preparedness.

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