EU reaches trade deal with Colombia, Peru

The EU reached a free trade deal with Colombia and Peru on March 1 that will fully liberalise commerce in some sectors between the 27-country bloc and the two Latin American nations, the EU executive said

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The agreement will provide new market access to exporters from both sides and includes manufactured products, agricultural goods, services and investment, the European Commission said.

“The European Commission today concluded trade talks with Peru and Colombia in view of the signature of a multi-party trade agreement between the EU and Andean countries,” the Commission, in charge of EU trade policy, said in a statement.

“The agreement provides for total liberalisation of trade in industrial products and fisheries including, at entry into force, 80 percent liberalisation of industrial products with Peru and 65 percent with Colombia,” it said.

The EU is the second-largest trading partner of the Andean region after the United States, with total trade worth nearly 18 billion euros ($24.3bn) in 2008.

The deal is part of an effort by the EU to reach a free trade agreement with the Andean Group of countries, which includes Ecuador and Bolivia as well as Colombia and Peru and represented 0.6 percent of EU world trade in 2008.

Ecuador walked out of the talks in 2008 after raising concerns on several issues including EU banana tariffs, government procurement, investment, labour rights and social guarantees for Ecuadorian migrant workers in the EU.

EU imports from Andean countries are primarily agricultural products representing 47.5 percent, while fuels and mining products make up 41.1 percent.

The bulk of the EU’s exports to the region is manufactured goods, representing 89.6 percent, notably machinery, transport equipment and chemical products.

The accord follows nine rounds of talks. It must be initialled by the parties – possibly at an EU-Latin America summit to be held in May in Madrid – before being voted into law by parliament.