The Constitutional Court approved the FTA with USA

· Economics
Authors

The Constitutional Court approved the Free Trade Agreement with United States in its sentence of last July 24th 2008, stating that the commercial agreement between Colombia and the North American country signed in Washington on November 22, 2006, the 1143 Law of 2007 and the Modifying Protocol of June 28th 2007 signed also in Washington, was according to the Colombian Constitution.  The FTA is now on the hands of the Congress of the United States of America that is waited to give sentence.

The Court studied the legal procedure that was followed in the Congress of the Republic of Colombia and that started in the Chamber, the announcements to this respect, the consultation to the indigenous communities and the times and periods in the different chambers and commissions. The Court analyzed the effects of the FTA with USA to the Colombian Constitution and the protection of the fundamental rights. The judges was especially concern about the competences and faculties of the Constitution in the different Colombian organizations and authorities within the context of an eventual free trade agreement with USA in the way that the development and applications of such agreement could be object of judicial decision. At the end, the Court considered that the FTA is according to the Colombian Constitution and therefore, it was approved. It means, that the discussion in Colombia is technically and legally closed and that the next step is in the US Congress.

Objections

There was a vote against the approval coming from Judge H.E. Jaime Araujo Rentería, who explained his reasons and who said that the approval of the FTA is against the Colombian Constitution. H.E. Araujo Rentería said that although he is a friend of commercial interchanges with all the peoples of the earth, those interchanges should be done according to the rules stablished by the Constitution that in its 9th article declared that the main principle of the Colombian foreign relations is the national sovereignity. In the introduction is established also that the main Colombian purpose of integrations is with the Latin American nations and in the 2nd article is said that it is a duty of the State to defende the national independence, included the economy, as well the principles of equality, reciprocity, national interests and sovereignity according with the 226th, 227th and 150th articles.

H.E. Araujo Rentería expressed his admiration for the people of the United States of America and its workers that have been sympathetic to their Colombian collegues, included their interests in the development of investigations on the crimes against unionists. He said however that the Agreeement and the Modifying Protocol are unconstitutional, first because the problems in the process and second because it was not presented a detail study on economies to allow a most clear panorama of consecuences and opportunities to evaluate its convinience for the Colombian people. He concluded that the agreement violated several articiles of the Constitution and that it will create several problems in Colombian like lacking of food guarantees, the rights to health and enviroment and the rights of the indigenous peoples and women.

Other Judge that gave his vote in favour of the approval, declared that even though, still to clarify some matters in the agreement. Judge H.E. Humberto Antonio Sierra Porto said that the agreement is a very important tool for integration and development, but it is necessary the introduction of some aspects, for example, that the international agreements can be object of legal revisions by citizens after they are signed on matters that the Constitutional Court did not contemplate previously. In this sense, the free trade agreement can be developed and improved according with future legal rules established by the law. For the Judge, the agreement must review for example the problem on rights of author.

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