Friday

28th Apr 2017

EU completes trade talks with Peru and Colombia

  • Huge fishing interests in Latin America are among Spain's reasons for driving the deal forward (Photo: Commission)

The European Union has completed negotiations over controversial free trade agreements with Peru and Colombia, with member state and European Parliament approval now required.

Announcing the news on Monday (1 March), the European Commission, which negotiates on behalf of European capitals, said the deal included manufactured products, agriculture goods, services, and investment.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The agreement provides for a complete liberalisation of trade in industrial products and fisheries between the two sides, the EU executive body said in a statement.

Full ratification would see initial tariff-free trade in 80 percent of industrial products with Peru, and 65 percent with Colombia, with a timetable put in place to remove the remaining barriers.

In a nod to development NGO concerns, the EU is set to provide Peru and Colombia with aid in order to modernise their economies and take full advantage of the trade agreement. An inability to compete with foreign companies following market liberalisation is among the chief criticisms leveled by FTA opponents.

A sustainability clause is designed to ensure environmental and human rights are respected in participating countries, though NGOs are doubtful about its effectiveness.

"Its efficiency as a tool to promote human rights has not worked in the past," Andrea Maksimovic, an international co-operation co-ordinator with Solidar, a European network of NGOs, told this website.

Ms Maksimovic says intellectual property rights obligations in the deal are set to have a negative impact on the poorer Latin American economies and that Colombia's human rights record does not merit the agreement.

Opposition

The European Parliament has also voiced its concern over the high number of trade union deaths in Colombia, with the legislature's approval now needed under the Lisbon Treaty for full ratification of EU trade deals.

Colombian trade unionist killings account for roughly 60 percent of the world total, and MEPs have urged the commission to launch a formal enquiry before member states sign the bilateral agreement.

Deputies in favour of the deal say it will help to improve human rights in Colombia however, while critics say an FTA should be used as a carrot to drive improvements, and not be given away while murder rates are still high.

Following a similar debate on Sri Lanka, EU member states agreed last month to suspend trade preferences with the island nation amid accusations of government human rights abuses.

Spain, current holders of the EU's rotating presidency, has extensive business interests in South America and is pushing hard for member states to initial the agreement at an EU-Latin America summit in Madrid this May, although trade analysts question whether the timetable is achievable.

Aware of the diverging opinions on the subject, EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht told MEPs during a January hearing that there was a need for a "political agreement" on the topic, a possible implication that extra human rights requirements could be asked of Bogota.

Senators warn Obama on EU trade competition

US senators have put pressure on the Obama administration to implement free trade agreements with South Korea and Colombia, warning of competition from the EU, which recently clinched similar deals.

Eurogroup makes 'progress' on Greek deal

Eurozone ministers endorsed an agreement in principle between the Greek government and its creditors over a new package of reforms. But talks on fiscal targets and debt could still block a final agreement.

New anti-trust complaint looms over Microsoft

At least three security software companies “met several times” with the European Commission to complain about Microsoft’s alleged abuse of its market position. A formal case could follow.

Commission stops German-British stock merger

The decision to block the merger of the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse was expected, as negotiations between the parties broke down a few weeks ago.

SMEs lack support in EU financial plan

The European Commission's plan for a capital markets union is said to be aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, but many could end up being left out in the cold.

New anti-trust complaint looms over Microsoft

At least three security software companies “met several times” with the European Commission to complain about Microsoft’s alleged abuse of its market position. A formal case could follow.

Investigation

MEPs oppose EU agency to prevent Dieselgate II

The European Parliament said on Tuesday that there should be more EU oversight on how cars are approved, but stopped short of calling for an independent EU agency.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  2. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act
  3. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  4. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  6. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  7. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  8. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  9. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  10. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  11. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?