Colombia signed an agreement this week that aims to increase trade between the Andean nation and its peers to the south in the Mercosur alliance.
The agreement intends to give Colombian companies the same access conditions as local firms to the markets of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, the four member nations of Mercosur.
The agreement was signed during a meeting of the Pacific Alliance — the other major trade bloc in the region, which includes Colombia, Mexico, Chile, and Peru — that featured Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos as well as Brazilian President Michel Temer and Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez.
The development came amid a larger push by the two trade blocs to strengthen ties, a goal that has been in discussions for years and may now be moving closer to reality. The meeting produced a “roadmap” plan to work more formally to align the two commercial alliances, which combined include nearly four-fifths of the region’s population and 85% of its gross domestic product, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
While the roadmap didn’t make concrete advancements, it outlines the next steps to take to further advance the work needed to align on issues including the elimination of non-tariff barriers and regulatory cooperation as well as generally facilitating more trade in goods, services, and tourism.
María Lorena Gutiérrez, Colombian minister of commerce, industry, and tourism, signed the bill between Colombia and Mercosur and said that these markets are particularly appealing to Colombian firms in the software, consulting, and professional services spaces.
“For Colombia, it is very important to establish clear conditions of access to markets so that our companies can compete on equal terms with the service industries of the Mercosur countries,” said Gutiérrez. “This agreement generates legal certainty for entrepreneurs.”
Photo: Colombian Commerce Minister María Lorena Gutiérrez signs the agreement to deepen ties between Colombia and Mercosur. (Credit: Ministry of Commerce)