Thursday, June 17, 2010

Canada-Colombia FTA Almost Finalised, Putting Pressure on U.S.

(Bridges Weekly)

Canada and Colombia came one step closer to finalising a free trade agreement (FTA) this week, with the Canadian House of Commons voting in favour of the deal. The FTA will next be viewed by the Canadian Senate for final approval. The FTA passed with an amendment that requires both the Canadian and Colombian governments to assess the accord’s effects on human rights on an annual basis. However, whether this clause will actually be effective has been the source of heated debate.

Colombia is Canada’s fourth-largest trading partner in South America, with trade between the two countries amounting to US$1,260 million in 2008, according to BusinessWeek. Liberal MP Scott Brison was quoted in Canadian newspaper The Globe & Mail as praising the FTA, saying that its ratification would “give us a head start, and Canadian interests an advantage.” Brison had proposed the human rights amendment that was added to the FTA in March.

Canada’s passage of this deal is likely to put additional pressure on the U.S. to pass its own FTA with Colombia. The US signed an agreement with Colombia in 2006, but the FTA has been stalled in the US Congress ever since. Read more here.