EU, Colombia FTA moves nearer ratification

Negotiators from the EU, Colombia and Peru have signed the final texts on Free Trade Agreement designed to increase trade between the South American countries and the European bloc, W Radio reported Friday.

The agreement will initiate “a new framework of bilateral relations of trade and investment between the EU and the Andean countries” said the European Commission in a communique.

The signing took place after a judicial review of the wording of the pact, which was signed in May 2010. After this step, a further process of translation and official approval will take place before a final signing for the FTA to go into effect as soon as possible.

According to sources in Brussels, the agreement will offer new possibilities of access to markets for EU, Colombian and Peruvian traders. The same sources also said that the pact will “take into account” the different levels of development of the countries involved and includes a section on cooperation aimed at promoting competitiveness and innovation, and the facilitation of the transfer of technology

In the section on agriculture, the EU agreed to give Colombia and Peru preferential treatment with the export of bananas to the EU market.

It was agreed that there would be greater access for Colombian sugar, alcoholic beverages, and dairy and pork products to the EU market. Similarly the EU will be able to sell its dairy products and hams in Colombia with more ease.

Dairy producers protested against the signing of the agreement amid fears that they would not be able to compete with EU dairy producers who receive large subsidies. NGOs and civil society organizations also protested on the grounds of Colombia not meeting human rights standards. Earlier this month, 200 organizations signed a manifesto requesting the EU strike down the FTA.

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