Colombia’s free trade agreement with Switzerland will enter into force from July 1, making the European nation the first developed country to sign such an agreement with Colombia.
The treaty, ratified by the Colombian Congress in December 17, 2009, will offer Colombia access to a market of some 7.6 million people with an average per capita income of $43,000 a year.
It is a significant acknowledgement of years of increasing trade between the two countries. According to Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism figures, Swiss-Colombian trade bordered around $300 million from 2003 to 2005.
By 2008 this had risen to $807 million, while in 2009 the two nations surpassed the $1 billion barrier.
The Colombian sectors expected to benefit most from the deal are the mining and chemical sectors, which provide the largest exports to Switzerland.
The largest Swiss imports have thus far been machinery and equipment, constituting 45% of total Swiss imports to Colombia.
The Colombian-Swiss FTA forms part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which also includes Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Although developed and signed jointly, the procedures for implementation are different in each country and the levels of progress are staggered.
Accordingly, only Switzerland and Colombia have fulfilled the requirements which will put the FTA into force from July 1.