Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Colombia: the Madrid Protocol - is it all over?

The Bill 234/2009, concerning the adoption of the Madrid Protocol, failed to be discussed at meetings of the Colombian Congress. Was this a temporal matter or a permanent one?

It is reported that the Bill has been put on hold because it did not fulfilled the relevant legislative procedure, so it is a temporal situation. It is clearly a set back that appears to be fair - need to comply with certain requirements. However, is this really what is happening?

Some time back, Adam Smith wrote an article on the WTR (issue 23) asking whether 2010 would be the year in which Latin America adopts the Madrid Protocol. In a latter issue some of us were invited to write a letter to the editor regarding this situation (issue 24). There is of course many ideas and hypothesis, pros and cons, but we have not heard yet a concrete answer why it has taken so long.

Now, going back to today’s news, at the time I noticed that in the FTA between the US and Colombia (pending ratification from the US Congress), there was a footnote where there was a commitment by Colombia to ratify or accede to the Madrid Protocol. So, what happen there? Are they playing the same cards as the US Congress? Everything is in stand-by.

I believe that another point to consider is that perhaps Colombia has lost interest in the FTA with the US; I do not blame them – it has been more than 4 years since it was signed. At the moment Colombia is negotiating FTAs with South Korea, Israel and Panama. This year, it concluded negotiations with the EU and last week the Canadian Parliament approved the FTA (Canada-Colombia). Next step for Colombia is to negotiate with Australia, Japan and Russia. That said, I presume that while the US is an important market for Colombia, it is not a priority, at least not now.

The query is: are they going to debate the Bill? I, to be honest, dislike uncertainty; for me everything should be answered with a ‘yes or no’. It is like the marmite commercial ‘you either love it or hate it’. There is not in between. The Bill is not a sandwich.

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