Bolivia angry at EU bid for trade talks with Peru, Colombia

11 November 2008

(LA PAZ) - Bolivia vented fury Tuesday at the European Union's decision to drop free-trade negotiations with a South American bloc it is part of in favor of separate bilateral talks with Peru and Colombia.

"I want to publicly demand that the European Union respect the internal agreements for bloc-to-bloc negotiations," Bolivian President Evo Morales told a news conference.

The European Commission said earlier Tuesday it was looking to the bilateral negotations because talks with the Andean Community of Nations -- which groups Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru -- had stalled.

European External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero Waldner said the South American bloc was unfortunately too divided for a deal to emerge, and that Colombia and Peru had shown they wanted talks with the EU.

Colombia and Peru strongly advocate economic liberalization, while Bolivia and Ecuador are run by leftwing administrations opposed to free-market principles.

Morales, who has nationalized telecommunications and energy companies in Bolivia, complained that "some governments (in the Andean Community) are breaking the unity of the region."

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