LIMA, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) no longer carries the commercial weight it used to in Latin America, but it can still serve as a model for regional integration, a United Nations official said here on Wednesday.
Speaking at a seminar in Lima, Sebastian Herreros, Economic Affairs representative for the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), said Europe's potential influence stems from the large number of trade accords it has with Latin American countries.
"The European Union has throughout this century lost influence, in relative terms, as a Latin American trade partner, second to the United States, but it has a great strategic advantage," Herreros told Xinhua on the sidelines of the seminar titled "The new configuration of world trade: the European Union-Latin American Dynamic."
"The fact is that it has trade agreements with the largest number of regional countries, currently with 26 and if the negotiations with the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) are successful, as is expected, the EU would have trade agreements with 30 of the 33 countries that comprise the region," said Herreros.
"Obviously, that gives Europe the possibility of having very important influence as a model for integration in Latin America," he said.
According to the ECLAC official, almost all Latin American countries have proven willing to negotiate similar accords with the EU, meaning they could extend the same concessions to each other, to boost regional economic integration.
"Europe could be a very important model in the debate on how to deepen Latin American integration," said Herreros.
In addition, EU trade policy since 2015 tackles some of the same social and political concerns that Latin American countries have, added Herreros.
"Trade is not an abstract concept, the agreements take into account labor standards, environment, the fight against corruption, empowerment of women and the strengthening of small companies, among other matters," he said.
Bilateral trade between the 500 million-strong EU market and Latin America's 625 million consumers is promising, he added.