|A South Korean woman practices coffee making in a Bogotá cafe. She plans to serve Colombian coffee in Seoul.|
|A South Korean-made car on a Bogotá street.|
Sure, this'll mean cheaper computers for Colombian students. But it'll also mean a tidal wave of cheap and dirty Korean cars. Think that the traffic jams are bad now? Just wait.
More fundamentally, eliminating trade barriers with South Korea could trap Colombia deeper in its raw materials-based economy. Today, Colombia sells Korea coffee and minerals and buys back cars, phones and computers. That's a bad deal for Colombia, since mining creates few jobs, feeds corruption and damages biodiversity.
|Imported from Asia? A Bogotá traffic jam.|
Colombian auto assembly plant workers have protested the Colombia-Korea FTA. Rightly, they believe that their jobs will be exported across the Pacific Ocean. With them will go a piece of Colombia's small and fragile middle class.
Developing manufacturing isn't just a nice idea - it's also necessary. After all, resource extraction's not only unhealthy for Colombia's economy and its environment - it's also doomed. After all, that gold, coal and oil will run out eventually, and Colombia will be fortunate if they do so while Colombia still has some biodiversity left.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours