LIMA – The free-trade agreement linking the European Union with Colombia and Peru, an accord that went into effect five years ago, has greatly benefited that latter country, a German member of the European Parliament (MEP) says.
Bernd Lange, the head of a delegation from the EP’s Committee on International Trade (INTA) that is visiting Lima this week, made that assessment at a press conference.
“In terms of goods and services, things are going very well. We can say that Peru has a trade surplus, and so we can say that it’s a big beneficiary of these types of accords, if we compare it with others like (the one) it has, for example, with China,” Lange said Thursday.
The EU noted this week that it is one of the three biggest markets for Peru’s goods and services and the leading foreign investor in the Andean nation.
The 28-nation bloc’s foreign direct investment in Peru rose 15 percent between 2013 and 2015 to roughly $12 billion.
Bilateral trade, meanwhile, amounted to approximately $10 billion in 2016, according to the European Commission’s Third Annual Report on the Implementation of the EU-Colombia/Peru Trade Agreement.
After meeting with Peruvian Foreign Minister Cayetana Aljovin, Lange said Thursday that some pending matters must be resolved in implementing the accord, “such as certifying certain rules.”
“But in terms of trade, we can say that things are going quite well,” he added.
“It’s clear that trade also has to benefit citizens, and that’s why International Labor Organization rules must be complied with,” Lange said.
“They must be followed so citizens have their share of the benefits of this treaty, and of course so fair competition isn’t undermined.”
He also stressed “the need for informal work to become formal work” and called for reviewing “the issue of temporary workers,” reinforcing collective bargaining and “increasing labor inspections.”
“We believe trade must go hand-in-hand with an authentic debate with civil society, unions and companies, precisely so they also play an advisory role in implementing” the agreement, he said.
Lange also said the EU-Colombia/Peru trade deal “helps Peru draw closer to” the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); Lima has its sights on becoming a full member of that inter-governmental forum in 2021, when the Andean nation celebrates its independence bicentennial.
The OECD “clearly demands a series of structural procedures and measures in terms of labor rights and worker representation,” the MEP said, adding that those points are included in the EU’s trade accord with Peru and Colombia.
“I think a very important link may exist between free-trade agreements and accession to the OECD,” Lange concluded.
The INTA delegation, which visited Colombia between Monday and Wednesday and began its two-day official visit to Peru on Thursday, also is made up of Poland’s Adam Szejnfeld, the United Kingdom’s David Campbell, Spaniards Inmaculada Rodriguez-Piñero and Ramon Jauregui and Germany’s Nadja Hirsch and Helmut Scholz.
The EU’s ambassador to Peru, Diego Mellado, said Wednesday that the visit to Peru would serve to strengthen financial, economic and trade relations between the European bloc and the South American country.