Colombia officially announced Thursday that negotiations concerning a free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea have concluded.
The treaty, which has been in the works since 2009, will eliminate various tariffs on South Korean goods entering Colombia. The agreement is expected to grow Colombia’s economy by 0.5% “which translates into more jobs in the import sector, especially jobs in the Colombian agricultural sector,” said Segio Diaz-Granados, the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism.
“[South] Korea is a very important player in global trade. It is an economy which imports more than $400 billion a year, and is basically a large purchaser of goods, especially food,” added Diaz-Granados. South Korea had the fifth highest cumulative GDP in 2011. Colombia came in at 33.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maria Angela Holguin predicted that the treaty will be signed June 25 when South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visits Colombia. The FTA will be taken to Colombia’s Congress in August for approval.
Diaz-Granados also announced Thursday that the FTA with the European Union (EU) will be finalized June 26 despite calls from the European Parliament, the legislative assembly for the EU, for Colombia to improve its human and labor rights record.
The trade deal will allow 99.9% of Colombian industrial exports to have tariff-free access to European markets, and, according to Diaz, compete with the host of other countries that already have FTA agreements with the EU like Mexico and Chile.
An FTA with the United States went into effect May 15 amid similar criticism from U.S. officials and human rights groups.