Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Frustrated Colombia edges toward Asia

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on November 23, 2010

by Henry Mance for Financial Times – Beyond Brics, November 23rd, 2010.

Colombia’s free-trade deal with the US is starting to resemble Fidel Castro’s demise: always so close, yet so far. The pact – intended to lock in Colombia as a economic partner of the US – has been held up by Democrats in Congress since 2006. Barack Obama has spoken in favour of it, but the turgid economy leaves little leeway for anything that might be labelled a jobs-killer.

So Colombians no longer bother sending expensive lobbying teams to Washington. Instead, they’re interpreting Congress’s snub as a reason to look to Asia. Colombia is the biggest economy bordering the Pacific that is not a member of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec). It now plans to join the organisation – and to seal free-trade deals with South Korea, Japan and Singapore, a government official said on a trip to London.

Hernando José Gómez, head of the national planning department, and the man who negotiated the stalled agreement with the US, told beyondbrics that Colombia was conscious of its lack of experience in Asia. So the country is looking to sign deals with “economies that are complementary to, not competing with,” its own. Trade with China, Malaysia and others will only be liberalised at a later stage. (continue reading… )



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