Colombia, Latin America’s third-largest economy, aims to achieve more than $ 1 billion in bilateral trade with the United Arab Emirates by 2030, President Ivan Duque said on Sunday.
In an exclusive interview with Emirates News Agency (WAM), the Colombian President, who is on his first official visit to the United Arab Emirates, said he hopes to triple trade figures with the Middle Eastern country. over the next 24 months.
â€œDo I see a potential to reach $ 1 billion (by 2030)? Yes, and it could be more than that. But I think we need to connect the markets, remove the barriers and be able to bring investments from the UAE to Colombia, â€he said.
â€œI really believe the next challenge is to triple the trade (numbers) between Colombia and the UAE over the next 24 months and be able to have the biggest investment the UAE has ever made. in Colombia.
“I am sure that green energy, hydrogen, unconventional renewable energy sources and conventional energies like oil and gas will generate a lot of interest from UAE investors in Colombia.”
According to the UAE’s Ministry of Economy, bilateral non-oil trade between the two countries reached $ 176 million in the first half of 2019.
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The two countries established diplomatic relations 45 years ago and Colombia was one of the first countries to support the UAE’s bid to host Expo 2020 Dubai.
There are no direct flights between the two countries yet. However, the Colombian president has revealed that he will discuss it with Emirati officials on Sunday.
â€œWe had this conversation with the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Colombia and our Ambassador here. I will be meeting with the UAE authorities today (to discuss this further), â€he said.
“One of the things I would like to bring up (at the meeting) is to take away the logistical complexities and be able to connect directly between Colombia and the United Arab Emirates.”
The two countries are working on signing a memorandum of understanding on double taxation avoidance, President Duque said.
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When asked if the United Arab Emirates could be the second country in the Middle East, after Israel, to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia, he replied, â€œI think there is. has a great opportunity. We can do something strong, fast, impactful. We are working to avoid double taxation and there is an investment agreement (with the United Arab Emirates) which is being discussed in Congress. So why not an FTA? I think it will be a win-win situation.
Duque, who was elected president in 2018, believes the UAE can be an â€œimportant accelerator and partnerâ€ in his vision of making Colombia the â€œSilicon Valley of Latin Americaâ€.
â€œYes, I see the United Arab Emirates playing a role. Not only by the [sovereign] funds, but also when it comes to providing technologies – Artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, cybersecurity, blockchain, â€he said.
â€œWe have been able to develop technologies that may be suitable for UAE companies looking to Latin America. UAE can be a very important partner, helping our country to move more startups in specialized technologies; to become suppliers and to be able to connect the United Arab Emirates can be an accelerator of the vision of Colombia becoming the Silicon Valley of Latin America. “
Colombia is an emerging destination for the incubation of technology and IT companies. In 2015, the country was the third largest IT service provider in Latin America with more than 5,400 companies and revenues close to $ 2.5 billion, Luis German Restrepo, director of ProColombia Miami, told Forbes. .
Speaking about the Colombian economy and tourism, President Duque said: â€œThis year our economy will grow above 8.5% which will be the best growth. [rate for Colombia] in this century.
â€œ4.5 million tourists visited Colombia in 2019. We want to reach a higher level in 2022. I am motivated to see Colombia in a post-pandemic world where we will take advantage of our capacities, including the possibility of having biotourism and ecotourism as the engine of our economic growth, â€he concluded.