EU and US Thrived on Protectionism, Why Can’t We? Asks Correa

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa addresses the EU-CELAC summit in Brussels, June 10, 2015.

At the EU-CELAC summit, the Ecuadorean president said there is a moral urgency to reduce poverty and end exclusion of certain sectors of society. The president of Ecuador and pro-tempore president of the CELAC bloc, Rafael Correa, says that Latin American and Caribbean nations form a region that is developing quickly through the creation of small and medium businesses, but need to resort to trade practices that Europe and the United States used in order to thrive in the world economic order.

rafael correa at the CELAC EU summit 2015The South American leader, who holds a PhD in economics, told those at the opening session, “We were told that protectionism was bad, however that is how the economies of Europe and the United States thrived and their companies have grown.”

The second summit between the EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations concluded recently in the Belgian capital city Brussels, which is also home to the EU’s governing body.

Poverty and extreme poverty have been reduced but remain a problem

Correa also said that poverty, and extreme poverty, have been successfully reduced in many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, but recognized that they remain a widespread problem not only in the region, but around the world as well. He argued that poverty is the result of social injustice, such as exclusion from education and dignified jobs and salaries, which promote the concentration of riches.

“The eradication of poverty is a moral imperative not only in our countries but in the whole world,” he added. “For the first time in world history, poverty is not the result of lack of resources but of injustice and exclusion which promote the concentration of wealth. Latin America remains the most unequal region in the world and no one has found a more dignified and better way to fight poverty than to create productive and stable employment with appropriate work environment and good salaries, “said the Ecuadorean President.

One of the objectives of the business summit is to “understand” that the producers are “fundamental to the creation of jobs and production economies and therefore also of inclusion and social change in our countries,” he added.

Correa noted that human labour is fundamental to production and that a fair and dignified salary is the base of equality. He explained, however, that education and the training of human talent is essential to economic growth and ending inequality.

Small and medium-sized businesses

The president praised the success of small and medium-sized businesses (SME) in Europe, and said they would be equally successful in Latin America and the Caribbean if they had the same access to credits, financial backing and the proper training and technical support. “The SMEs in Europe have been successful thanks to the support that they receive, while in Latin America we lack the vision and have insufficient resources to support this sector,” he said.

President Correa stressed the importance of the two-day summit in Brussels, but emphasized that these have to respect each nation’s right to sovereign government.

The conference is being attended by some 60 heads of state and high-ranking officials to tackle the issues of climate change, investment, and the Colombian peace talks. The theme of the event this year is “Shaping our common future: working for prosperous, cohesive and sustainable societies for our citizens.”

CELAC has now cemented its international significance

CELAC, established in 2010 as an alternative to U.S.-run bodies like the Organization of American States, has now cemented its international significance. It last met with the EU in 2013 in Chile.

“It will be the occasion to underline the importance of EU-CELAC cooperation in a complex, rapidly changing world,” the organizers of the event said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Correa, whose country holds the pro-tempore presidency of the CELAC bloc, met with his EU counterpart Donald Tusk in the Belgian capital ahead of the conference. Meanwhile, EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini also met with Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, to sign a draft agreement to forge stronger links between Latin America and Europe. “Today, we have jointly signed the establishment of a EU-Latin American-Caribbean Foundation on the basis of transforming it into an international body that, we believe, will help us work even more among our societies,” Mogherini said.


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