Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos is expected to give the final approval and signature to the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between his country and the United States head of this weekend’s Summit of the Americas.
The bill, which will go into effect once both nations exchange the necessary documents, will bolster trade and change Colombia’s copyright laws to fall more in line with U.S. standards.
Colombia’s Senate and House of Representatives convened in a joint session Wednesday to go over final details of legislation regarding the proposed reform of the country’s intellectual property laws.
President Santos urged his government to rush implementation of the FTA in March to finalize the agreement ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s arrival for the Summit of the Americas, a series of political meetings attended by 32 heads of state, to be held in the Colombian coastal city of Cartagena April 14 and 15.
Colombia’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, Sergio Diaz-Granados said in a statement to reporters that he hoped Obama would recognize that “Colombia has done its part in the process of implementation” of the FTA.
The bilateral agreement has garnered fierce opposition from critics in both countries for Colombia’s alleged failure to comply with commitments to improve labor rights enshrined in the FTA agreement. Four union members have been killed by illegal armed groups in 2012, with dozens murdered in 2011.
The Intellectual Property Rights chapter of the accord proposes a significant overhaul to Colombia’s copyright laws. One contentious new reform would prohibit the transmission of TV signals over the internet, carrying with it a potential sentence of four to eight years. Critics have opposed the new legislation because they feel this section of the FTA did not receive sufficient public debate before being passed.
Diaz-Granados hopes the bill will “fine-tune the legislation in Colombia to fall in line with the existing international commitments and standards on copyright.”
The cyber hacking group, Anonymous disabled the webpages of Colombia’s president, vice president and Ministry of Commerce Tuesday in protest of the FTA.