Global Times - 01.08.2019

(Jacob Rumans) #1 THURSDAY AUGUST 1, 2019


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By Huang Ge

Despite being caught in the middle of a
geopolitical tug of war between Beijing
and Washington, Colombia is likely to
approach the huge Chinese market, as
can be seen in the recent state visit by
its President Ivan Duque who wants to
enhance trade and encourage China to
buy more agricultural products.
President Xi Jinping and President
Duque hold talks in Beijing on Wednes-
day afternoon, in which they conducted
in-depth and broad exchanges of views
on bilateral relations and regional and
international issues of common inter-
est and reached an important consen-
sus, Zhao Bentang, an offi cial with the
Ministry of Foreign Aff airs, told a brief-
Economic and trade relations be-
tween China and Colombia are expect-
ed to rise to a new level with more co-
operation not only in traditional sectors
such as infrastructure and energy, but
also in emerging businesses like mod-
ern agriculture and the digital econo-
my, offi cials from both nations said.
A total of 12 documents were signed
between the two countries covering
sectors like agricultural investment and
trade, transportation, e-commerce, im-
ports of avocados, 5G and fi nance.
Bilateral trade has been limited in
previous years and about 80 percent
involved traditional industries such as
oil, energy and minerals, Duque told

business leaders from both countries
in Beijing on Wednesday. It is Duque’s
fi rst state visit to China since he was
elected Colombia’s president in 2018.
But the diversifi cation of China-Co-
lombia trade will be highlighted as driv-
ers can be seen in sectors like tourism
and agriculture, Duque said.
The fi rst direct fl ights between Chi-
na and Colombia are expected to be
launched next year.
“We have signed agreements to
bring banana and avocados to China
soon and hope other products like cof-
fee and pork from Colombia can enter
the Chinese market,” Duque said.
China is willing to cooperate in the
launch of direct fl ights and will also ac-
tively look into the matter of pork im-
ports, Zhao told the Global Times.
The fi rst batch of Hass avocados,
which will be carried in fi ve contain-
ers and be worth $200,000, will be

shipped to China by December, Cor-
pohass Executive Director Jorge En-
rique Restrepo told the Global Times.
China’s avocado imports mainly come
from Mexico, Chile and Peru and Co-
lombia wants to seize the opportunities
of the nation’s fast-growing market.
By the end of 2018, China had be-
come Colombia’s No.2 trading partner
and Colombia was China’s eighth-larg-
est trading partner in Latin America.
Bilateral merchandise trade rose
29.2 percent year-on-year to $14.6 bil-
lion last year.

Chinese fi rms welcomed
Although trade tension between Chi-
na and the US has aff ected global trade,
it also means growth opportunities for
Colombia, Minister of Commerce, In-
dustry and Tourism of Colombia Jose
Manuel Restrepo Abondano told the
Global Times on Wednesday.
For instance, Chinese companies
could move to Colombia so that their
exports can enjoy favorable export tar-
iff treatment via the Colombia-US free
trade agreement, he said.
Chinese enterprises including Hua-
wei and ZTE are more than welcome in
Colombia no matter whether they take
part in infrastructure construction or
investment, the minister said.
“There are no concerns about securi-
ty threats brought about by companies
like Huawei and ZTE as we have met
these companies that have a presence
in Colombia,” the minister said, noting

“as long as the Chinese companies can
win public bids, Colombia warmly wel-
comes them.”
The Latin American country is try-
ing to forge a sound business climate
to lure Chinese investors and so far 70
Chinese companies have established
a presence in Colombia, such as ZTE,
Huawei and China Harbour Engineer-
ing. China Harbour Engineering won
a construction contract for a project
called Mar2 in 2015, as part of the coun-
try’s 4G highway concession project.
A Chinese businessman surnamed
Wu expressed his interest in doing
business in Colombia, but worried that
factors such as “the investment envi-
ronment, cultural barriers and social
safety” would bring challenges.
Busy ports, advanced infrastructure
facilities and favorable tax policies pro-
vide Chinese investors chances in the
South American country, experts said.
Colombia entered new development
phase after its government signed a
peace deal with the country’s main
rebel group in 2016, which would help
secure a relatively safe business envi-
ronment for foreign investment, said
Jiang Shixue, director of the Center for
Latin American Studies at Shanghai

Bai Yunyi contributed to the story


Colombia seeks China trade boost

“There are no concerns

about security threats

brought about by

companies like Huawei

and ZTE.”

Jose Manuel Restrepo Abondano
Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism
of Colombia

u Huawei, ZTE more than welcome: minister

Page Editor:

A view of a fruit market in Colombia
in March. Photo: VCG

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