Colombia’s Business, Industry, and Tourism minister has announced the first round of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks to be held with Israel next week, said Colombian business newspaper Portfolio, Thursday.
Sergio Diaz-Granados said an FTA with Israel was the first step in Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos‘s bid to increase Colombian-Middle East trade. Colombia already has a strong friendship with Israel, in recent years buying planes, drones, weapons and intelligence systems from the Jewish nation.
Portfolio said the planned talks would cover market access, rules of origin and customs procedures, barriers to trade, health and environmental laws, trade defense, services and investment, government purchases, legal and institutional cooperation.
Colombia has received criticism during past FTA negotiations for its appalling record of labor violence. Meanwhile Israel’s market faces international boycott calls in response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
According to the report coal makes up 95.6% of Colombia’s current exports to Israel. Colombian-Israel trade from January to November of 2011 was valued at $755.1 million.
Diaz-Granados said discussions would take place in Jerusalem between March 12 and 15.