European trade ministers formally approved a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia and Peru on Thursday, paving the way for the European Parliament to sign off on the deal in September.
Ministers met in Brussels to officially approve the agreement, which is expected to cut tariffs on European goods by $620 million and boost Colombia’s GDP by 1.3%.
The FTA will “eliminate high tariffs, tackle technical barriers to trade, liberalize services markets… and open up public procurement markets,” the Council of the European Union said is a statement.
“It will ensure a level playing field with competitors in the region such as the United States,” the statement continued.
Though the pact also includes measures to enforce labor and environmental standards, European Parliament members warned that the passage of the FTA could lead to a “weakening of the current binding conditions” of the agreement and called on Colombia and Peru to step up efforts to protect human rights and sustainable development.
In the resolution, which passed 21 votes to four with three abstentions on Tuesday, ministers said the FTA provides “a real opportunity to promote economic integration and development and raise living standards in the Andean Region.”
The statement called for a “transparent and binding road map” in the Latin American countries “to protect trade unionists, human rights and the environment.”
Trade ministers from the EU’s 27 member nations reached a political agreement on the FTA in March. Though the agreement took legal force after Thursday’s official backing, it will not be actively enforced until Europe’s parliament gives final authorization.