Quito declaration: A step towards free trade

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In a recent meeting in Quito, the Ecuadorean capital, the heads of the four Andean Community of Nations signed the Quito Declaration, which seeks the extension of trade preferences with the us for a year. The agreement comes against the backdrop of a left-oriented group of nations taking on the us.

The four-member Andean nation community comprises Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. Chile and Venezuela have quit the association, with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez trying to put together an anti- us, anti-free-trade group with the help of Cuban president Fidel Castro, the us's perennial bugbear. Despite the fact that Bolivia elected a left-wing president, Evo Morales, who has committed himself to protect the interests of autochthonous people, the country remains in the trade bloc.

The bloc has decided that each nation will separately negotiate the issue with Washington. Peru and Colombia have already sealed an agreement with the us for a year. The group also decided to negotiate regional free-trade talks with the European Union.