The European Union (EU) endorsed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia and Peru Friday, which awaits ratification from the union’s national parliaments.
The agreement, which will eliminate various tariffs, widen market access and reduce tecnical obstacles to trade, was approved by European countries despite earlier concerns about Colombia’s poor human rights record.
The EU, which has suffered badly during the global and the Eurozone debt crisis, is looking to boost trans-Atlantic trade in light of shifting global economics that could see China dominate in years to come, Danish Minister for Trade and Investment Pia Olsen Dyhr told AFP.
Pact negotiations ended in May 2010 and the agreement is close to being finalized, although further details need to be ironed out before Colombian officials arrive in Brussels next week.
The agreement contains a clause for the protection of human rights and the rule of law, but Colombian unions and several European political groups argue Colombia has failed to meet the required standards.
In November 2009, 12 members of the European Parliament requested that the EU not sign the FTA on account of the country’s poor human rights record, especially in relation to trade unionists.
The agreement is expected to come into effect in September.