Colombia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States will not end agriculture production in the country, the agriculture minister said defending the deal, which takes effect Tuesday.
Juan Camilo Restrepo made the comments after the launch of an Oxfam report on the FTA Monday that claimed 1.8 million farmers will see their income drop by 16% as U.S. products flood Colombian markets, forcing farmers out of business.
Restrepo acknowledged that some industries will be hit harder than others by the deal, and promised government funding to help the most vulnerable farms compete with the influx of American goods, reported Radio Caracol.
He also argued the FTA will benefit consumers by lowering prices and increasing competition.
“The message from Ministry of Agriculture is not to spread the apocalyptic mindset that some are spreading, which says Colombian agriculture and livestock production will end,” Restrepo said, according to the paper.
The deal will take 19 years to be fully implemented, time the minister said will be used to prepare Colombian producers for the elimination of various tariffs.