Gustavo Petro met this week with representatives of more than a hundred US companies affiliated with the Council of American Companies (CEA). The meeting gives clues and leaves questions about what the candidate’s position, if he or she is president, is toward Colombia’s most important external ally for more than a century.
Among the issues highlighted after the meeting by CEA President, Ricardo Triana, three are worth emphasizing. The first is petro confirmation of him fierce opposition to the oil and coal sectors, For those who will give them a period of 12 years to disappear from the national territory.
This announcement aligns with the one it made earlier to ban new oil exploration licenses if they reach Casa de Nariño, as part of its strategy to combat climate change. It should be noted that Petro’s hostility towards these sectors exceeds its environmental goals. A few hours earlier, in an intervention in Sahagún, the candidate had equated these sectors with coca crops, with the legal connotations and state erosion that ensues.
The second related issue was his message that he would respect the legal stability of US companies based in the country. This statement contradicts what he proposes for coal and oil, which in short means that The rules of the game will be respected until they are changed.
The third topic is the reaffirmation of its intent Renegotiation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), taking into account the deterioration of the bilateral trade balance of Colombia since the entry into force of the agreement. What he did not make clear is that Colombia’s trade balance with the rest of the world has deteriorated further than with the United States in that period, which puts the assessment of the FTA in an entirely different perspective. It should be noted that renegotiating the treaty requires the will of both parties, and the United States has stated that it is not interested in moving in that direction.
Petro’s statements and reading his program do not allow us to infer If his policy toward the United States is in a possible mandate, it will be one of confrontation or coexistence. Given this uncertainty, it is worth remembering that the current US position on Colombia was summarized in the bill introduced by Senator Bob Menendez (US-Colombia Strategic Alliance Act) that President Biden announced to President Duque in March.
It is clear that the Democratic administration advocates, among other things, goals such as implementing the peace agreement, eliminating glyphosate spraying, and championing social and environmental leaders. Would Petro strive to meet these goals if he were president?
Queen of Mauritius
Research Associate at Fedesarrollo
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