The Colombian ambassador to the U.S. defended the Colombian-U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) on Monday, but acknowledged the work that lies ahead in successfully implementing it in Colombia, according to newspaper El Mundo.
Speaking at the 76th Coffee Congress in Bogota, Colombian ambassador Gabriel Silva stated that the FTA does not present a threat to the Colombian agricultural sector, as argued by opponents of the treaty, but rather that it will be one of several sectors to gain from the agreement even in the short term.
The ambassador pointed to the Colombian coffee industry as the best example of a sector where the FTA provides a real opportunity for growth. Silvia, who is former president of the National Federation of Coffee Growers (FNC), stated that costs of coffee production, fertilizers and machinery will all be reduced as a result of the treaty.
However Silvia also highlighted discrepancies between U.S. and Colombian implementation of the FTA, which was ratified in October of this year, after being held up for years over concerns around human rights abuses against trade unionists in Colombia.
While in the U.S. the passage of the FTA through Congress outlined all measures needed to adapt domestic legislation to the treaty, according to Silvia, in Colombia there remain at least 75 adjustments needed to bring domestic legislation in line with the treaty.
The ambassador concluded that the FTA “will only work if there is formality, full benefits, and guarantees for all workers who export”.