Colombia entered into a trade agreement with Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) in 2009 and with Canada in August 2011. It will soon implement one with the European Union. Colombia expects to conclude a free trade agreement with South Korea by the end of 2011 and to take steps to negotiate an economic partnership agreement with Japan. Environmental protection obligations: Both parties also commit to effectively enforcing their own national environmental laws and to enact, maintain and implement laws, regulations and other measures to meet obligations arising from covered multilateral environmental agreements. Environmental obligations are subject to the same dispute resolution and enforcement mechanisms as commercial obligations. Critics of labour cooperation agreements argue that regulations lead to repression of workers, prevent workers from joining trade unions and lead to denial of basic benefits. Critics also say that some marginalized groups, particularly the Afro-Colombian population, are particularly vulnerable to unfair treatment. Colombian workers` representatives have asked Congress to delay the adoption of the free trade agreement until Colombia has improved its labour laws.72 Workers` groups say indirect labour relations in Colombia persist after the implementation of the action plan and prevent workers from exercising their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.73 Before the approval of the free trade agreement between the United States and Colombia , workers` groups expressed concern about the widespread practice of indirect labour relations in Colombia, such as labour cooperatives. Colombian cooperatives are working arrangements that are found mainly in the sugar cane, palm oil, flowers, mines and ports sectors. Critics of the programs argue that these indirect jobs do not protect workers` rights, lower wages and lower health and pension benefits.69 The Colombian government put in place such labour agreements years ago to create jobs, but then acknowledged that these pacts could lead to an erosion of workers` rights. It then undertook a series of reforms since 2004. An important law was passed by the Colombian Congress on 12 December 2010. Article 63 of Ley 1429, a law formalizing the labour force and job creation, adopted new and stronger measures to ensure that workers` rights are not violated and to impose sanctions on companies that violate Colombian laws.70 Accountable to inspectors for non-enforcement; and improve bargaining rights for co-op workers.
The law is expected to have a transitional period and will not come into force until July 2013. However, in an agreement reached with the United States as part of the Labour Rights Action Plan, the Colombian government agreed to accelerate the implementation of the law by June 2011.71 The main expectation among proponents of the free trade agreement with Colombia, as in other trade agreements, is that it offers economic benefits to both the United States and Colombia. , as trade between the two countries develops. Another of the proponents` expectations is that it will help to improve investor confidence and increase foreign direct investment in Colombia, which could lead to greater economic stability. For Colombia, a free trade agreement with the United States was part of the country`s overall development strategy and efforts to promote economic growth and stability. Since the 1990s, Latin American and Caribbean countries have been at the heart of U.S. trade policy, as evidenced by the adoption of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement, the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) and the Trade Promotion Agreement