The European Parliament is set to approve the E.U.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) before the end of the year, reported local media Friday.
“There is a debate within the European Parliament, that is independent, but I’m optimistic that it will sign the agreement before the end of the year,” said the Vice President of the European Commission, Antonio Tajani, after meeting with President Santos in Bogota Thursday.
The agreement, which will eliminate various tariffs, widen market access and reduce technical obstacles to trade, was ratified by European Union members despite earlier concerns. In November 2009, 12 members of the European Parliament had requested that the E.U. not sign the FTA on account of the country’s poor human rights record, especially in relation to trade unionists.
Tajani praised Colombia’s economy and stable market, saying the European Union knows that in Colombia there is “legal and financial security and no delay in payment, important characteristics for European businesses.”
The official went on to note that investment niches in the Andean nation are in mining and tourism, but said that European businesses are primarily interested in the former, because of the continent’s “problems with raw materials.”
The European official arrived in Bogota Wednesday night to meet with President Santos and sign four agreements with the government to promote industrial cooperation, increase the exchange of commodities and strengthen small and medium enterprises and tourism.
The United States finalized their own FTA with Colombia recently that went into effect May 15.