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Cablegate: Colombia-Canada Trade Agreement Closing Fast

VZCZCXYZ0008
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #8002 3131148
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091148Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0060
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 9525
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ NOV LIMA 5615
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 2417
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 0806
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 6242
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

UNCLAS BOGOTA 008002

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON CO
SUBJECT: COLOMBIA-CANADA TRADE AGREEMENT CLOSING FAST


Canada Poised to Gain Trade Advantage
--------------------------------------

1. (U) Colombia and Canada are racing quickly to conclude
their free trade talks by the end of November 2007. In
preparation for the scheduled final round at the end of
November in Lima, mini-rounds are taking place all over the
Western Hemisphere, including the services group meeting in
Bogota, temporary entry meeting in Lima and the investment
group meeting in Miami. (A separate Canada-Peru negotiation
is taking place concurrently, hence the rounds in Lima.) The
Colombians and Canadians recognize they will probably need to
tie up loose ends after the November round, and have left
open February 2008 for a clean-up mini-round. The GOC plans
congressional approval by mid-2008. After the
constitutionally required court review, Canadian products
could enjoy duty-free access to the Colombian market in
14-months time.

Starting on Third Base
----------------------

2. (U) President Uribe set the unusually short deadline of
November, leaving time for only a handful of rounds. The
negotiations can meet that deadline in part because the GOC
wants a speedy conclusion for reasons unrelated to trade with
Canada, and because both sides agreed upfront to adopt most
of the obligations contained in the U.S.-Colombia Trade
Promotion (CTPA) text. With some 90 percent of the text in
place, the negotiators have focused on a sharply narrowed
list of outstanding issues, such as access for wheat, barley
and corn.

Labor's a Problem, But Not a Big Problem
-----------------------------------------

3. (SBU) The negotiators have modeled the labor and
environment chapters on the CTPA, but with some unspecified
changes. Although labor unions in Canada object to the
negotiations, neither Colombian nor Canadian negotiators
expect the opposition to create insurmountable obstacles to
congressional approval in either country. Canada's Labor
Minister visited Bogota the week of November 5 to meet with
the regular list of stakeholders, e.g. pro- and anti-FTA
unions, the prosecutors office, NGOs, the Vice President, etc.

Comment: Why the Rush?
----------------------

4. (SBU) The GOC is working overtime to complete the
negotiations with Canada principally to create a sense of
urgency in the U.S. congress to pass the CTPA. By 2009, U.S.
agricultural producers will be faced with less favorable
access to Colombia than key competitors such as Canada,
Brazil and Argentina. At the same time, the GOC continues to
expand its trade relations across the globe. In addition to
Canada, the Colombians are negotiating with the EU and EFTA
countries (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein),
as well as with Venezuela in talks to solidify a post-CAN
trade relationship. The Uribe Administration understands
that the clock is running on its ability to implement
substantial changes to Colombia's trade regime, and that the
President's post-2010 successor may hold less ardent free
trade/free market beliefs.
Brownfield

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