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100 faqs about TLC.
Does the Government guarantee that there will be no trauma in the provision of information under the FTA?
Indeed, there will be no trauma in operations. We aim to have a complete system that benefits all foreign trade as soon as possible.
What specific information will the system provide?
With the adjustment being advanced, the system will track how much has entered for a given quota, by consolidating this information in real time.
What is the benefit of this system for foreign trade?
This is a very functional system that will allow online control of the entry of products so that once a quota is complete the respective tariff will apply. Using this tool will help to prevent injury to domestic industry.
When will the new customs system be ready to handle the transactions made under this FTA?
The National Government has been working at full speed for this information system to be ready as soon as possible.
Colombia is a high consumer of technology products. Will there be any additional benefits for this in the FTA?
For technology, such as computers, televisions, tablets, cell phones, semiconductors, and scientific equipment, Colombia adhered to the Agreement on Information Technology of the World Trade Organization. This obligates parties to give relief to these products.
What other class of goods will be duty free with the FTA?
The FTA gives immediate relief for stationery items, such as pencils, crayons, specialized brushes, equipment for personal care, beauty products, such as irons and curling irons, as well as toys, video equipment, musical instruments, clocks and alarms, cosmetics, and perfumes.
Ultimately, how will this FTA affect Colombians economically?
Considering that approximately four thousand products may be imported from the U.S. market duty free, including raw materials, machinery, equipment, agricultural products and manufactured goods, it is understood that this will have a favorable impact on the pocketbooks of Colombians, overall.
Is it true that Colombian drug laboratories will lose competitiveness under the FTA?
No, in the field of drug-related intellectual property (patents and test data), Colombia maintained its current standard of protection, without creating new barriers to access to medicines. It also preserved all the flexible instruments it has to govern the defense public health.
Is the issue of biodiversity covered in the FTA?
The FTA incorporated the protection of biodiversity and the traditional knowledge associated with it. This is recognized under international principles of prior informed knowledge and equitable sharing of benefits for the use of genetic resources, as required by our legislation. In addition, mechanisms were incorporated that are devoted to avoiding the improper granting of patents that deal with biodiversity, mainly through the exchange of information. The parties agreed to seek ways to share information that may have bearing on the patentability of inventions based on traditional knowledge or genetic resources.
Is it true that the FTA will degrade the health of citizens, due to the way the issue of intellectual property was negotiated?
No, this topic provides conditions for an adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights. Also, a proper balance achieved between encouraging and protecting knowledge generation and research with that of providing adequate access to technology and knowledge. In general, the negotiation preserved the current regulations in the country and incorporated national issues, such as measures to prevent biopiracy, along with the promotion of innovation and technological development.
Will there be more competition for telecommunications?
On this point, various themes were negotiated to help the competitiveness of the companies in this sector. To this end, Colombia will have no obligation to privatize telecom companies owned by the Central Government. In terms of private networks, the chapter ensures that companies of the parties can access and use public networks and services for telecommunications, including leased circuits offered in the territory or across borders, in terms reasonable and nondiscriminatory conditions. It highlights the requirement of commercial presence by Colombia, in providing public telecommunications services, which, in addition to attracting foreign investment, guarantees equal treatment, in terms of regulatory burdens and contributions to the Communications Fund. Similarly, we obtained the exclusion of rural telephony in the disciplines of the FTA. This service includes populations with fewer than 4,500 lines installed, which is 74% of the municipalities in Colombia.
Will banks benefit from this FTA?
Absolutely! Under the agreement, there will be an extension of competition through the establishment of banks and insurance companies, via branches that are built with capital in the country. Additionally, in the insurance sector, cross-border trade is allowed, with the exception of compulsory insurance, that which is related to social security and that which is to be taken by public entities. Another highlight is the preservation of the Government’s discretion to control capital flows for the purpose of macroeconomic stability. Similarly, the power for policymakers to design and regulate the social security system was retained.
Will there be an increase of flight frequencies to the U.S. or will there be more U.S. based carriers?
For the full implementation of the FTA, there will be two phases to facilitate air travel between Colombia and the United States. The first phase will be up in 2012, during which time each party will increase to 21 frequencies on routes already in operation. The second phase will be to approve new routes without limitations. As noted above, from January 1, 2013, the open skies agreement shall enter into force. Currently, Colombia and the United States share more than 200 weekly scheduled flights, which represents 37% of Colombia’s international air market.
How can Colombian professionals provide their services to the U.S.?
Colombian service providers may do so in four ways. The first is by "cross-border supply," which is where the service moves. In this case, neither the consumer nor the provider must move to the other territory. Is includes such things as conducting consultancy, receiving calls to an attention or call center, and providing advice via telemedicine. The second method is known as "consumption abroad," which occurs when the consumer moves to another country to receive the service. This includes such things as tourism. The third method is known as "commercial presence," which is when capital moves, such as through a subsidiary of a company. This is related to foreign direct investment and is covered in the Investment Chapter. Finally, the fourth method is known as "presence of natural persons," in which the service provider moves, temporarily, to another country to provide the service. This includes such things as training or repair services.
Does this mean that there will be new business for Colombia’s professional services to the U.S.?
The FTA has included the creation of a working group on professional services, which provides a permanent framework for the professional bodies of the two countries to perform the relevant work on mutual recognition and standards for licensing Although the FTA has identified engineering and architecture as priorities, others, such as health services and consultancy, can use this framework in the future as a means to promote agreements on these matters.
Will this FTA facilitate the recognition of Colombian academic degrees in the U.S.?
Mutual recognition of degrees is an issue that complements trade and has been strengthened through other agreements. However, in the FTA it was established that the two countries will pursue this theme with their respective authorities and develop standards for the licensing and certification of professional service providers. Through a letter accompanying the Chapter on Services, the U.S. committed to review the state-level measures requiring permanent residency or citizenship for professional engineering, accounting, architecture, legal, nursing, dentistry, general medicine, and paramedic services.
In what U.S. states might Colombia expand its services?
Given the close relationship between the outflow of Colombians to the U.S., as well as the growth of bilateral trade in goods and services, the most representative states for trade in professional services are New York, New Jersey, California, Texas, Florida, and the District of Columbia. It was precisely this identification of states which prompted the establishment of specific commitments to facilitate the provision of professional services.
What will professional services gain with the FTA?
Engineering, architecture, accounting, and other similar services will benefit with the FTA since these branches received concessions. One of the major gains in this chapter is that it is not mandatory to establish "local presence" in the territory of the other country in order to provide a service. Thus, telemedicine, call centers, accounting services, and data processing services, among others, will greatly benefit.
We have covered agriculture and industry, but what is the outlook for services?
Colombia has been working to strengthen the export of services and several of these sectors are in the Productive Transformation Program (PTP). The FTA will eliminate barriers that distort trade and impose discriminatory treatment, as well as tariffs for digital products, among which includes software, video, and image and sound recordings, among other items.
Will there be any sectors that lose?
The FTA is not about winners and losers. This Agreement gives adequate periods of relief for businesses so that they may take the necessary actions to increase their competitiveness.