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Notes from Bogotá: Update on the Canada - Colombia FTA

December 2, 2008

Notes from Bogotá: Update on the Canada - Colombia FTA

It's a cool day in Bogotá, but the rains that have plagued the country over the last month have abated, at least momentarily.

I met with Mario Valencia from RECALCA (Colombian Network for Action on Free Trade) this morning. Top of mind for him was the possibility that Harper's Conservatives are dethroned on December 8, which would likely mean that the FTA is shelved, at least for the time being.

Though I'm personally skeptical about the possibility of a coalition actually succeeding in taking power from the Conservatives, in my experience it's rare that something happening in Canadian politics actually interests folks outside the country.

Mario passed along this statement from Senator Jorge Robledo, which reads, in part (unofficial translation):

The consequences [of a Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement] are evident: 80% of what Colombia sells to Canada consists of coffee, coal, flowers and sugar, which is to say goods that do not require an agreement to get to the market. On the other hand, 23% of what [Colombia] buys from Canada are agricultural products, principally cereals and meat products, which will worsen the situation of national producers.

The FTA [between Colombia and] Canada seems to have been written by a mining company. Canada is known as a paradise for these types of corporation, like Colombia Goldfields Ltd, Coalcorp Mining Inc, and Frontier Pacific Mining Corporation, whose environmental impact is already well known.

Stockwell Day signed the Canada Colombia deal behind closed doors on November 21st, in the lead up to the APEC summit in Peru.

The FTA still needs to be approved by legislators, but everything is on hold as the future of the Canadian government hangs in the air.

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Interesting article, and yes

Interesting article, and yes you are right about outside interest in Canadian policies.