Canada accused Colombia of failing to implement a duty free system agreed upon between the two countries.
According to a report by Colombian financial newspaper Portafolio, Canadian trade officials complained that their Colombian counterparts failed to issue duty-free-licenses to Canadian exporters for 2011. As a result more than 14,000 tons of imported Canadian beef, pork, and beans were subject to tariffs in the last year.
The licenses were part of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries, which went into effect last year.
Canadian officials found fault with the Colombian Customs Office and said 2011’s un-issued duty-free-licenses should be added to the 2012 licenses.
Former Colombian trade official Ricardo Duarte said rolling over the licenses was not possible. According to Duarte, FTA rules prohibit license accumulation to avoid hurting domestic economies.
Director of Colombia’s national statistics department Juan Ricardo Ortega said the Colombian Customs Office was not entirely at fault, and instead blamed the influence of Colombian businesses seeking advantage in domestic markets.
“Certain interests do everything they can to slow things down, because every time things slow down they win.” said Ortega.
Speaking on the matter, Colombian Commercial Minister Sergio Diaz-Granados worried about its implications for Colombia’s FTA with the U.S., which takes effect May 15.
“Is Colombia ready for the FTA or are we improvising? The U.S. FTA takes effect soon. Are we going to be in the same situation we are in with Canada?” said Diaz-Granados.