Colombia’s agricultural minister announced a number of tasks Sunday necessary to prepare the country for a potential free trade agreement with the United States, economic magazine Portafolio reported.
Although the FTA has yet to pass the Senate, Agricultural Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo announced a number of tasks that Colombia must complete to be ready to benefit from potential free trade with the U.S.
Restrepo reminded Colombian agricultural businesses that if it is passed, the FTA will require stronger health and safety mechanisms, noting that if the situation is not improved, “we will not export a kilo of meat or fruit or anything.”
The minister called on Colombia’s government to obtain commitments from other countries to reduce subsidies and ensure access to new markets for Colombian agricultural products.
Restrepo also called for the strengthening of legal institutions and customs resources, and instructed the agricultural industry that part of the FTA would be a review of the industry’s practices.
Finally, the minister also commented on the failure of the U.S. Congress to renew the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), which allowed for a significant amount of Colombia’s exports to arrive duty-free in the U.S. to provide alternatives to drug smuggling. Restrepo said that the restoration of the act would not be a concession to Colombia but a responsibility for the United States as a consumer of Colombia’s drug exports.
U.S. Congress is not expected to vote on the long-stalled FTA with Colombia before September.