President Juan Manuel Santos announced Thursday that Colombia and the European Union will ratify a free trade agreement (FTA) on December 13.
The proposed deal is expected to be formalized next month and come into effect in 2013, according to media reports.
The new trade agreement presents an “opportunity for Latin America to develop closer relations with Portugal and Spain,” said Santos, who is currently touring Portugal on state business.
There is “great interest in investment and privatization in Portugal and…countries [within] the European Union,” said Colombia’s head of state.
According to Sergio Diaz-Granados, Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, the new deal is expected to increase Colombia’s GDP 0.5%. Portugual alone is expected to invest close to $900 million in Colombia in 2013.
By taking “advantage of the market in Latin America, [by taking] advantage of growth in Latin America,” Portugal, one of the countries most devastated by the 2008 global economic crisis, is taking “a step in the right direction,” said Santos.
During a Thursday presentation in Lisbon, Santos told more than 100 entrepreneurs about the abundance of investment opportunities Colombia offers due to its rising GDP.
After the presentation, Portugal’s Prime Minister handed Santos the keys to Lisbon — a city currently in its third week of strikes protesting its conservative government.
News of the upcoming FTA comes on the heels of reports that Avianca, the Colombian-Brazilian airline giant, is in advanced negotiations to purchase Portugal’s largest airline, TAP, which is being auctioned off by the Portuguese government.