FTA with Europe should be postponed: Comptroller General

Colombia’s comptroller general says that the free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU), which is set to be officially signed next week in Madrid, should not be signed until the new Colombian government takes office, Portofolio reported Thursday.

Comptroller General Julio Cesar Turbay’s objections says that since the agreement will have to be approved by Colombian Congress, it is more appropriate to wait until the next administration takes office.

Another objection is derived from concerns that the FTA could be detrimental to Colombia’s dairy industry, “The signing of the FTA with the EU at the moment could affect the dairy sector.”

Dairy farmers across Colombia announced a new round of national protests on Wednesday demanding that the government halt the signing of the FTA with the EU. In a letter sent to Colombia’s trade and agriculture ministers, Turbay warned that the FTA could put 400,000 farmers out of business.

The recent protests against the FTA appear to show that the agreement forged in April between the Colombian government and dairy industry did not fully assuage the dairy farmers’ fears.

Colombian dairy farmers initially raised complaints against FTA with the the EU earlier this year, claiming that the agreement did not guarantee them the ability to successfully export their products to the EU, nor did it protect their domestic industry from unfairly subsidized European competitors.

Despite concerns from the comptroller general and the dairy industry, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe restated his support for the FTA on Thursday, remarking that it is “crucial” to Colombia, and that they are “trying to resolve a few aspects of the agreement with Europe, which should be signed next Monday, in order for it to be completely convenient for Colombia.”

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