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Colombia and Canada inaugurate FTA, while U.S. remains undecided

President Santos welcomed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, two days before FTA inauguration

On Wednesday, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed hope that a trade boom will result following a Free Trade Agreement between both countries that became effective on August 15th .

Santos also stressed that his government is working to reduce security risks for oil companies, in view of recent attacks blamed on guerrillas.

The Colombian president received Prime Minister Harper early in the government house, who arrived from Brazil for a one-day visit to Colombia. At the end of the day he planned to leave for Costa Rica.

The two countries signed in 2008 the text of the treaty in 2008, ratified by the legislatures of the two countries, which takes effect next week and is expected to raise trade.

In 2010, Colombia exported goods and products to Canada worth 532 million dollars, mainly coffee, oil, flowers and textiles, and imported Canadian items valued at 823.4 million dollars, from aircraft and barley to fertilizers and paper.

In a brief statement to the press at the end of their meeting, Santos was asked about how safe it was for Canadian companies operating in the jungle, in view of recent attacks by rebel groups.

The president said that in spite of successes in the area of ​​security, such illegal groups were not completely defeated.

“We still have a region to cover and there are remote areas where these terrorist groups are still present … their presence at this time is weak.  They are somewhat desperate, but they are not defeated,” said Santos.

The government works, said Santos, to provide “guarantees and security so all businesses can operate without restriction in our territory.”

Stephen Harper in Latin America.-

Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Brazil and Colombia, looking to revitalize relationships in South America.

Canada wants to look to other markets and become less reliant on the U.S. as a trading partner.

In that sense, Harper knows that Brazil has become a rising star in the world. Brazil´s economy grew by 7.5 per cent last year and claims to be the world’s 5th largest economy. Like Canada, it is resource rich and poised to weather world economic storms in good shape.

Harper visited Colombia to inaugurate the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement.

The Canadian government knows that smaller, bilateral agreements to open trade and relationships between countries make increasing sense.

In that sense, Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched a spirited defense Wednesday of the new free-trade agreement with Colombia – saying that long-standing security risks in the country are improving, and opponents of the deal who cite human rights abuses are phonies who actually want to erect a protectionist trade wall.

“No good purpose is served in this country or in the United States by anybody who is standing in the way of the development of the prosperity of Colombia,” said Harper. “Colombia is a wonderful country with great possibility and great ambition. And we need to be encouraging that every step of the way. That’s why we have made this a priority to get this deal done. We can’t block the progress of a country like this for protectionist reasons.”