Colombia began preliminary negotiations with Japan about establishing an Economic Partnership Agreement, reported local media on Monday.
Sergio Diaz-Granados, Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, reportedly met with Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo to discuss the foundations of a future Economic Partnership Agreement [EPA]. Diaz-Granados said he hoped the process will unfold as “fast and as ambitious as possible.”
Given the great interest and commitment Japan has in doing business with Colombia, Diaz-Granados said current talks are “well advanced.”
“There is no date set but [both countries want] to do it as soon as possible, so I think we will see significant progress in 2013,” said the Colombian minister.
According to Diaz-Granados, the pact will “significantly increase Colombian exports” to Japan, which have risen from $165 million in 2001 to around $528 million in 2011. “We expect exports [to Japan] to double or triple under an EPA, which would [generate] more…business relationships and attract more investment, which is one of the issues that most concerns us.”
Colombia and Japan made inroads regarding a Free Trade Agreement earlier in 2012, however an EPA is different. Unlike an FTA, which is focused on tariffs, an EPA is a more comprehensive trade pact. An EPA includes eliminating restrictions on foreign investment, incorporating a dispute-resolution mechanism, and protecting intellectual property rights, as well as all the usual free trade agreement terms.
In addition to the prospective EPA with Japan, earlier this year Colombia signed FTA’s with the United States and the EU. While it is apparently too early to judge the success or lack thereof regarding the deals, both agreements generated mixed reactions from different parts of Colombian society.