Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the free trade agreement (FTA) between Canada and Colombia will take effect August 15.
According to the prime minister’s press release, the announcement was made during Harper’s visit to Bogota to meet with President Juan Manuel Santos. Harper expressed optimism about the opportunities the FTA could create.
“Colombia has a burgeoning economy with incredible potential for commercial linkages with Canadian entrepreneurs. Improving trade and expanding market opportunities also helps to build a better future for the next generation.”
The prime minister believes that the countries’ bilateral relationship will promote a higher standard of living for Colombians, especially children.
“The [Canadian] Government is also committed to ensuring people from all walks of life in Colombia have better, safer lives. Through the Canadian International Development Agency, Canada is working with UNICEF Canada to increase access to education, and strengthen protections for children from sexual exploitation and abuse.”
The statement also addressed concerns about human rights violations against labor workers and union leaders.
“We also support the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor, advocate and report on human rights, enhancing the capacity of the Colombian government to protect citizens’ rights, prevent abuse and investigate violations.”
With the exception of Mexico, Colombia is Canada’s fifth largest trading partner in the Latin American and Caribbean regions. The prime minister reported that trade between the countries grew 32% between 2005 and 2010.
Santos also expressed enthusiasm about the new FTA with Canada. “That relationship with Canada is a relationship that we greatly appreciate and is one that we want to nurture and strengthen more and more,” said the Colombian president.