Colombia’s free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU) includes a clause which provides for the pact’s suspension in the event of a “flagrant” violation of human rights, reports W Radio.
Spanish Vice President Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said that the suspension clause is include in a section on commitment to human rights and contains “evaluation mechanisms” in the case of a “flagrant violation.”
Colombia “has a long and difficult history, and as a result we think that it is good to endorse a human rights agreement. We recognize the advances in the country due to government efforts,” Fernandez said, but also that “there are still” violations.
The Spanish government holds the EU presidency this semester.
Meanwhile, the Colombian government announced a special package of measures designed to protect the country’s dairy industry, following concerns that the FTA will adversely affect more than 400,000 farming families across Colombia.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe announced the issuance of Decree 1673, which bars the entry of aged milk products into Colombia, for health reasons and to protect the country’s dairy farmers.
“To defend our products against such problems, to avoid risk to public health, this decree states in its first article that any milk that is going to be imported into Colombia must have an expiry date of more than twelve months from the date that [the product] arrives in the country,” Uribe said.
The president said both Colombia and the EU will sign a declaration affirming their commitment to closely monitoring the dairy industry issue.
In the declaration, the EU will also affirm its commitment to supporting dairy projects in Colombia, leaving open the possibility that the Andean nation can appeal for adjustments to the deal if the industry is adversely affected by the FTA.
Colombian dairy farmers raised complaints earlier this year against the trade deal with the the EU, claiming that the agreement did not guarantee that they would be able to export their products to the EU, nor did it protect the domestic industry from unfairly subsidized European competitors.
The signing of the FTA is scheduled for May 19 in Madrid.