Semana | February 17, 2009
Colombia / European Union FTA on track
After the first round of negotiations of the Free Trade Agreement between Colombia, Perú, Ecuador and the European Union finished on February 13th, the chief negotiators of each country seemed positive.
Rupert Schlegelmilch, representing the European Union, Mentor Villagómez from Ecuador, Eduardo Brandes from Perú and Colombian negotiator Santiago Pardo, all said in the press conference that significant progress was made in the 13 tables of negotiations.
“We have received and important offer from the European Union regarding bananas”, said Santiago Pardo, chief negotiator for Colombia, who didn’t give more details about the topic.The offer of the European Union for non agricultural products was also a significant step forward. Almost 98% of the Andean exports will have immediate tax exemption.
The FTA will not be negotiated taking the three Latin American countries as a block. The new format designed for the negotiations is an unique multi party agreement in which each country’s particular interests will be taken into consideration regarding specific products, but all framed within the same agreement.
The next round will take place in Lima, Perú, in April. According to Pardo, the chief negotiators agreed to exchange improved offers on goods and services and written proposals on topics on which the parties have already had substancial progress.
After Lima, the third round will be in Brussels and the fourth will be held in an Andean country yet to be defined. Negotiators look forward to resolving thorny issues such as intellectual property.
The Colombian chief negotiator admitted that after the consensus in this first round, it is possible to think that the FTA could be ready during the next semester.