OTTAWA, Ontario – A special round of bilateral technical discussions between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (C.F.I.A.) and Colombia's Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario (I.C.A.) will take place on Aug. 18, said Gerry Ritz, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture. The meeting intends to map out the resolution of the remaining outstanding technical trade issues between the two countries.

"Canada and Colombia have a strong partnership based on principles of sound science that is paying dividends for our farmers," Ritz said. "By tying up the final technical details, we are helping hardworking Canadian farmers reap the full benefits of the Canada-Colombia Free-Trade Agreement when it is officially implemented."

Colombia lifted its bovine spongiform encephalopathy (B.S.E.) bans on beef in January and live cattle in April 2010, demonstrating their commitment to science-based approaches to trade.

Colombia is a promising emerging market with a population of 48 million and an economy with high growth potential. Trade on commodities with Colombia totaled $1.2 billion in 2009. Opportunities for further growth will be facilitated by the implementation of the Canada-Colombia Free-Trade Agreement (F.T.A.), which received Royal Assent in Canada in June 2010 and which will come into force once the Government of Colombia completes their domestic approval processes.

Colombia is the third-largest market in South America for Canadian agri-food products. An F.T.A. will open new market opportunities for Canadian farmers and exporters and will help level the playing field vis-à-vis competitors that are also seeking preferential access, including the United States and the European Union. The F.T.A. will also have a positive impact on the economy and contribute to creating more jobs in Canada.