The U.S.-Colombia free trade deal (FTA), which was ratified by U.S. Congress Wednesday, could come into effect in less than a year according to Colombia’s Trade, Industry and Tourism Minister Sergio Diaz-Granados.
In an interview with financial publication Portafolio Minister Sergio Diaz-Granados said the long awaited free trade agreement with the North America which could come into effect by 10 to 12 months.
“We are counting from the sanction date by [U.S.] President Barack Obama, one has to calculate more or less …10 to 12 months. It is possible that we will achieve it before, but [it is] more or less the time taken by Peru which has a similar agreement.”
In regard to being signed by US President Barack Obama Diaz-Granados said “we are convinced that it will be ready in October for the signature of [United States] President Barack Obama.”
The minister said that after the receiving the presidential signature the FTA needs to go through two more phases. An “implementation agenda” needs to be prepared “which basically consists of some exchanges of information between the Trade Ministry [in Colombia] and the commercial office in the U.S.” and then there must be a phase of “preparing the Colombian export sector for an increase in sales.”
In order to do this, the Trade Minister said that they must “strengthen the capacity of Proexport [Colombia’s export promotion agency], help exporters identify new clients in the U.S. market. We will also do market research to find new niche opportunities. We have to look for partners, contractors, people who can exchange trade in all regions of the U.S.”Diaz-Granados added that Colombia still has not developed all the potential it has to export.
The Trade Minister said the sectors that will benefit initially will be textile manufacturing, flowers, plastics manufacturing, fruits and vegetables and with time there will be a positive impact on vehicle and domestic appliances producers.
He said areas in which the FTA poses a challenge are infrastructure and logistics “The two have to advance to world-class standards to be able to make the most of the trade deal.”
He called the FTA ratification the “good news that the country has been waiting for,” as Colombian levels of foreign trade are some of the lowest in the Latin America, and the FTA will help the country to consolidate itself and maintain steady growth.
According to the minister indirect effects of the trade accord will be more U.S. investment in Colombia, greater numbers of tourists, more re-exportation opportunities with other Pacific Latin American countries and more resources from third countries such as Brazil.
“There are Brazilian companies that have stated their interest in setting up in Colombia and they think of this country as a good platform for exports,” said the Trade Minister.