The European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Committee has passed the free trade agreement (FTA) negotiated between Colombia, Peru and the EU, bringing the treaty one step closer to realization in a process which has so far taken over two years, reported news-wire EFE on Thursday.
Negotiations on the agreement finished in 2010 but the document was not signed until June of this year. The parliamentary commission passed the agreement with 54 votes in favor, nine against and one abstention, however the committee only operates in an advisory capacity and the treaty still has to be endorsed by the full parliament.
Evidently the process has been this slow because the text had to be translated into the 23 official languages of the EU, and undergo the lengthy relevant legal checks. The International Trade Committee of the EU will have the final say on the agreement which was supposed to go into effect this month.
On June 13 the EU passed a resolution supporting the FTA, but conditioned its passing on Colombia’s compliance with labor rights, including freedom of workers to unionize, as well as environmental regulations. Colombia has received criticism for being the most dangerous country in the world for union workers. According to a recent report by the International Trade Union Confederation, at least 29 union workers were killed in Colombia in 2011.
According to reports, the FTA will benefit Colombia’s industrial and agricultural sectors and is expected to double trade within the next eight years. The trade deal will reportedly allow 99.9% of Colombian industrial exports to have tariff-free access to European markets.
Even in light of the Eurozone’s economic troubles, the deal is expected to boost Colombia’s trade with the region substantially given that the EU, whose 27 members are counted as a single entity, is the country’s second-largest trade partner.
The parliamentary commission’s report on Thursday said the treaty defines a “predictable” legal framework that it considered “essential” to incentivize trade and investment.
The report also stresses that the treaty “leaves the door open” for other countries of the Andean Community of Nations such as Ecuador and Bolivia for a similar agreement, confirming the intention of the EU to enter into a pact with all those countries.