President Juan Manuel Santos achieved the support of Spanish politicians on Monday for the pending free trade agreement between Colombia and the European Union.
On a visit to the Spanish capital Madrid, Santos met with King Juan Carlos I and several Spanish members of the European parliament (MEPs) who expressed their view that there are no substantial blocks to the FTA being ratified, El Espectador reports.
“Our impression is that Latin America and Colombia do not need handouts from the EU but opportunities. Today, that opportunity is given by the FTA between Colombia, Peru and the EU. We are going to work for it. That is our commitment, that the agreement be ratified,” said Jose Ignacio Salafranca, president of the Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly.
Chairman of the Delegation for Relations with the Countries of the Andean Community, Jose Maria Garcia Margallo added, “Colombia is a country where security and legal stability are most advanced in Latin America. This has allowed the recent good news that (Colombia) has been given an excellent rating on investment.”
Colombia’s Trade Minister Sergio Diazgranados, is due in Brussels on Wednesday to design the road map for ratification of the FTA with the EU Commissioner. If everything goes as planned, Colombia hopes that the agreement will be ratified by mid-2012, Caracol Radio reported Monday.
Negotiators from both Colombia and the EU signed the final texts of the FTA on March 25, however, a final process of translation and official approval of the agreement must take place before it can come into force.
According to Diazgranados, the EU is currently Colombia’s second biggest trading partner and if the FTA were to be ratified, Colombia’s exports could grow by another 30% to the bloc through the allowance of nearly 99% of Colombian exporters to enter European markets with zero tariffs.