Tuesday

18th Feb 2020

EU signs trade deals with Peru and Colombia

The European Union has initialed free trade agreements (FTAs) with Peru and Colombia, opening up trade and investment and saving an estimated half a billion euros in duties.

Wednesday's (13 April) signing in Brussels comes roughly one year after negotiations between the two South American states and the EU were concluded, talks which drew attention to violence in Colombia and saw Ecuador leave the negotiating table.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • The agreement will increase market access for agricultural products (Photo: newneonunion)

EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht welcomed the "milestone" agreement, saying it created a "foothold for European business in the area and an anchor for structural reforms in the countries concerned."

Once fully implemented, the deal will eliminate tariffs in all industrial and fisheries products, increase market access for agricultural products and widen access to public procurement, services and investment markets, among other measures.

EU member states and the European Parliament must now ratify the FTAs, with some MEPs previously expressing concern over the high number of trade union deaths in Colombia, roughly 60 percent of the world total.

The commission has stressed that the protection of human rights and the rule of law, as well as commitments to effectively implement international conventions on labour rights and environmental protection, are part of the deal.

Attending the signing in Brussels, Colombian trade minister Minister Sergio Diaz-Granados Guida said greater trade flows between the two sides would help Bogota stamp out violence and drug trafficking.

"This FTA will help us progress and leave behind those problems," he told journalists. "Economic growth based on free trade helps the stability and development of our peoples."

In Peru, recent first round presidential elections have set the scene for a second round face-off this June between left-wing Ollanta Humala and the conservative Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori who is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence.

Some voices within the Peruvian business community have expressed concern that an eventual Humala victory could hurt the country's booming economy, but the EU's De Gucht said the election outcome would have little impact on the FTA.

"This is an agreement which is finished ... It's standard international practice that once a negotiation is completed you don't change it [just] because there is a change of government," he said.

The EU also said the door was open for other countries in the region to strike similar trade agreements, after earlier dialogues with Bolivia and Ecuador hit the buffers.

EU lifts trade barriers with Colombia, Peru

EU officials are hopeful that a free trade deal entering into force on Thursday will improve labour rights in Colombia. But local trade unionists are sceptical.

EU set for new Libya naval mission

Foreign ministers reached a political agreement to create a new EU naval force to replace Operation Sophia. It aims to enforce an UN arms embargo on Libya and operate in area where migrants do not take boats.

Zuckerberg lobbies Brussels ahead of new EU rules

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met on Monday three European commissioners in charge of digital policies - Thierry Breton, Margrethe Vestager and Vera Jourová - to discuss upcoming EU rules and the responsibilities of platforms regarding disinformation.

Luxembourg takes EU lead on Palestine recognition

Luxembourg has stepped up efforts to coordinate an EU reaction to the risk Israel will annex Palestinian territories - but European recognition of Palestine remains a dim prospect.

Opinion

What the Dutch don't get about the EU budget

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is for chopping the European budget and its redistributive mechanisms. But each year, according to one economic analysis, the Netherlands get €7.1bn of additional revenues which should be payed in other tax jurisdictions.

News in Brief

  1. EU budget to introduce rule-of-law condition
  2. Far-right rally meets counter protests in Dresden
  3. Chief negotiator: UK will not align with EU standards
  4. Budget commissioner sold off energy shares in January
  5. German far-right group 'planned mosque attacks'
  6. German family minister urges gender quotas in boardrooms
  7. Decision on Catalan MEPs' extradition postponed again
  8. German court orders Tesla to stop cutting down trees

Agenda

Budget, Zuckerberg, Pelosi and Cayman Islands This WEEK

EU leaders will put their heads together on Thursday night to look for a compromise on the next long-term EU budget. EU Council president Charles Michel's latest proposal has received a lukewarm welcome from member states.

EU transparency on lobbyist meetings still piecemeal

Small steps are being made to reveal who is lobbying who within the EU. But the approach is basically haphazard and piecemeal - meaning the public remains largely in the dark and unable to truly scrutinise the influencers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us