Colombia-Japan EPA talks to open this year

Colombian ambassador to Japan, Patricia Cardenas, said Tuesday that talks on an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), a type of free trade agreement, would begin this year.

Colombia and Japan are reportedly on the verge of completing an Investment Protection Agreement (IPA), after talks on the matter stalled in February. The two countries are also negotiating a tax treaty, to be signed in the coming months.

As soon as these two deals are sealed, the countries will start negotiating the EPA, the ambassador said.

Japan already has EPAs in place with Latin countries Chile and Mexico and is negotiating one with Peru. According to Cardenas, “there is a line of countries waiting to negotiate with Japan, but Colombia is the first country on this waiting list.”

Such an agreement is expected to attract Japanese investment to the Andean nation, and allow Japanese mining, energy, and biofuels firms to enter the Colombian market.

From the Colombian point of view, it is also hoped that the agreement will increase exports to Japan, a country which imports 60% of its goods.

The EPA is the name Japan gives to the type of bilateral free trade accord it negotiates with other countries. According to the Colombian financial news website Portafolio, such a deal is more comprehensive than traditional free trade agreements and covers other aspects of economic cooperation.

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