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The governments of Colombia and China signed a “memorandum of understanding” in which they created a working group that will examine the possibility of implementing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries.
The announcement was made last Wednesday by the Colombian government with the publication of a statement due to the official visit of President Juan Manuel Santos to Beijing.
The working group will be composed by the economic area staff of the two countries, which will develop, over the next year, a document containing recommendations to guide both governments about the possibilities to start the treaty negotiations.
Beijing is the second largest trade partner of Bogota. According to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism of Colombia, in 2011, trade between the two countries reached US$ 10.16 billion, with China leading exports.
The financial crisis will certainly affect the Colombian economy. The dependency on various aspects of the country to the United States might lead to a rise in unemployment and a reduction in export rates. The oil and coffee prices will suffer a reduction, affecting directly two important items of the Colombian export network.
A “tranquilizing” aspect is the US$24 billion dollars international reserves that could handle an eventual dollar flow. Due to the characteristic of the Colombian economic team, local investments and pension funds are not in risk.
Alvaro Uribe`s allies presented in the Colombian Congress, today, an amendment proposing one more reelection for 2014. The initiative came from dozens of congressmen who are integrants of Uribe`s coalition. If the amendment is approved, this will be the second Constitutional Reform under Uribe`s administration.
The proposal is being headed by the Partido Social de Uniao Nacional (Social Party of National Unity).
Uribe has announced several times that he does not have the intention to go for another reelection. If he is not tempted by the possibility of an approval in the Congress, Uribe will probably support General Juan Manuel Santos, and then try to go back after 2014.
The Colombian President, Alvaro Uribe, is eager to see the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States approved. Even though it is comprehended by the Uribe administration that the Democrat majority in the US Congress is giving him a hard time, since there are allegations from the party that civil and labour rights are disrespected in that country, Uribe strongly believes that the FTA may be finalized at any moment.
The Uribe administration is using the expertise of a top lobbying company in Washington, and their main argument is that the FTA will be decisive to fight narcotics and to attract more American investments to Colombia.
In spite of the diplomatic row that heavily involved the government actions, the country managed to obtain some relevant results in terms of domestic policy. Business missions aiming at increasing Colombian exports such as coffee, banana, processed food and consumer goods were relatively successful.
Uribe continues seeking foreign investors for the country. Tax incentives are the main attraction the government is offering to investors willing to establish their businesses in Colombia. With Argentina on the verge of a severe energy crisis, Venezuela in chaos and Peru still not showing the necessary confidence, Colombia is the main destination (alongside Chile) for European and US companies interested in establishing themselves in Hispanic America.
Colombian Álvaro Uribe was elected Latin America’s most popular president, with a 78% approval rate. The study was carried out by Consulta Mitofsky, a Mexican consultancy firm. Hugo Chávez (Venezuela) came second with 61%, followed by Mexico’s Felipe Calderón and Costa Rica’s Oscar Arias, both tied at 60%.
Proof of Uribe’s popularity is in how he is dealing with the crisis with Venezuela and in the government’s progress against the FARC. Nowadays, 80.53% of all Colombians approve of how president Álvaro Uribe dealt with the diplomatic row between their country and Venezuela. The information was released after a poll conducted by RCN radio. Only 12.21% do not agree with Uribe’s performance during the crisis.
Nevertheless, the row is nowhere near being solved. Colombian regional officials understand that the militarization of the Venezuelan border with Colombia, as decreed by Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, may bring conflict to the communities living on both sides.
Uribe also won an important ally in keeping the FARC as a terrorist group. In response to his Venezuelan counterpart, Uribe said that, as long as the FARC do not put an end to torture and kidnapping, they will remain classified as a terrorist group.
The EU has refused to take the FARC off the list of groups classified as terrorists. More than that, Europeans reaffirmed all their support to the Colombian president. The announcement was made by the EU’s high representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), Javier Solana, after a meeting with Uribe in Brussels. This succession of positive facts (the EU’s recognition of the FARC as a terrorist group, Colombians’ support to his security policy, the way Uribe conducted the diplomatic row with Venezuela, and Uribe’s highest approval rate among all heads of state in the Americas) has consolidated the Colombian president’s leadership role.