Bogota, June 20 (Jiji Press)–Following the victory of leftist Gustavo Petro, an advocate of protectionism, in Sunday’s presidential election in Colombia, talks on an economic partnership agreement with Japan are expected to come to a standstill.
Petro is expected to drastically revise the South American nation’s trade policies as he pledged to renegotiate existing free trade agreements and raise tariffs during his campaigning.
Japan currently imports coal, coffee, flowers, cacao, avocado and other products from Colombia, while mainly exporting industrial goods such as automobiles and steel products. The two nations launched EPA talks at the end of 2012 to expand bilateral trade.
Citing Petro’s staunch opposition to free trade, Tetsuya Toyota, head of the Bogota office of the Japan External Trade Organization, said that Colombia is “expected to become reluctant to promote an EPA with Japan.”
Colombia and South Korea have a free trade agreement in place, meaning that Japanese products will become less competitive against South Korean goods in sectors such as automobiles if Japan-Colombia EPA talks stall.
Toyota said companies, including from Japan, may refrain from new investments in Colombia for the time being amid policy uncertainty.
While Colombia’s economy is robust right now, it may be dragged down by the country’s politics, Toyota warned.