The European Union’s Ambassador to Bogota, Fernando Cardesa, says that Colombia only stands to gain from the free trade agreement signed last month with the E.U., and that those objecting to the deal are a “pessimistic… mournful species.”
In an interview with La Republica on Wednesday, Cardesa denied that the FTA would have any bad consequences for Colombia, saying that “only pessimists see the negative aspects.”
According to Cardesa, the reason for the hostility of Colombian dairy farmers to the FTA is that “Colombian dairy farmers are just like those from the rest of the world, a mournful species. They only see black on the horizon, when they aren’t complaining about the price of meat, they complain about milk, or something else.”
To Cardesa, concerns from Colombia’s dairy sector that the FTA will be detrimental to their livelihoods are completely misguided. As the ambassador explained, the FTA will not result in “the E.U. deeply entering the Colombian dairy market.”
“There will be no European milk flooding the Colombian market,” Cardesa claimed.
On the contrary, what will actually happen is that with the FTA, Colombian dairy farmers will gain “an important opportunity to export their products,” Cardesa argued.
“The main question [for the Colombians] is how to organize their excess dairy production to take advantage of the European markets,” which, the E.U. official explained, would require the Colombian dairy industry to “restructure itself. The dairy farmers must find a way to participate in the market efficiently.”
In May, Colombian Agriculture Minister Andres Fernandez admitted that the FTA could adversely affect more than 400,000 farming families across Colombia, but noted that it should be viewed as a sacrifice, as other industries such as tobacco and coffee stand to gain from the FTA.
“The dairy industry itself is exposed, we cannot lie to the country, but we can’t stop signing trade agreements with other countries just because one sector is severely affected,” Fernandez said
As for the total benefit of the FTA to Colombia, Cardesa said that he expects Colombia to “increase its exports to Europe to $13 billion by 2015,” once the FTA, which was signed last month and awaits approval from the EU Parliament, takes effect.
Within three years of implementation, the ambassador contends, Colombia will begin to reap the economic benefits of the deal.
According to the EU’s deputy director for external relations, however, the ratification of the FTA could take a long time.
According to Joao Aguiar Machado, it could take a year and a half for the deal to pass through the E.U.’s lower house (the European Parliament) and upper house (Council of the E.U.), due to “distinct sensitivities” to the deal, such as human rights concerns.