The Government of Colombia and the European Commission announced today the start of negotiations towards a bilateral agreement on trade in organic products between the European Union and Colombia.
Both sides confirmed their interest to swiftly conclude, at the end of the negotiations, an agreement that would allow a larger market for organic farmers, reduced burden for companies and more organic products available to consumers.
EU Commissioner Phil Hogan is visiting Colombia from 7 to 9 February 2016, accompanied by a delegation of 35 European businesses representing a wide range of the European Union's agri-food sector.
In the framework of Commissioner's Hogan visit, a high level event on organics took place at Bogota, where long established and recognised EU organic companies were able to exchange views on the development of the sector in Colombia.
Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development of Colombia Aurelio Iragorri Valencia and EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development Phil Hogan met in Bogota.
Both the European Union and Colombia are currently examining each other's organic legislation.
The agreement on trade in organic products between the EU and Colombia will be based on the mutual recognition of each other's production rules and controls system as equivalent.
It will reduce administrative burden for producers and operators. It will also aim at fostering technical dialogue and cooperation between the parties to the benefit of producers and consumers of organic products.
EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development Phil Hogan stated: "I welcome the start of negotiations with Colombia with a view to concluding an agreement on trade in organic products.
"The organic sector continues to be one of the most dynamic production sectors the EU agri-food sector, and Colombia has great potential to develop opportunities for organic farmers and businesses, with the guarantee for the consumer of a solid control system."
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Colombia Aurelio Iragorri Valencia stated: "This agreement will be an important step in strengthening our economic relationship with the European Union in one of the fastest-growing agricultural sectors.
"The development of organic production is very important for farmers and rural communities in Colombia as it provides, on the one hand, for a sustainable development of Colombia's rural areas and, on the other hand, it contributes to increasing welfare of the rural population by providing access to differentiated high value added markets."
He added: "We welcome the cooperation and dialogue with the European Union for the development of the organic sector in Colombia. A future agreement on trade in organic products would represent a great opportunity for farmers and businesses and contribute to world-wide recognition of Colombia's organic produce."
The organic sector in the European Union has been rapidly developing in recent years with a total area of 10.3 million hectares cultivated as organic in 2014 compared to 6.4 million hectares in 2005. This means an average yearly growth of 5.5 per cent over a 10-year period.