EXCLUSIVE: Colombia, UAE trade to reach $1 bln by 2030, opening direct flights under discussion, President Duque says
By Ibrahim Shukralla
DUBAI, 6th November, 2021 – Colombia, the third largest economy in Latin America, aims at reaching more than US$1 billion in bilateral trade with the UAE by 2030, President Ivan Duque told the Emirates News Agency (WAM).
In an exclusive interview in Dubai, the President of Colombia said he hopes to triple the trade figures with the UAE within the next 24 months.
“Do I see a potential to achieve US$1 billion [by 2030]? Yes, and it could reach higher than that.
But I think we must connect the markets, eliminate barriers and be able to bring investments from the UAE to Colombia,” he explained.
“I really believe that the next challenge is to triple the trade [figures] between Colombia and the UAE over the course of the next 24 months and be able to have the biggest ever investment by the UAE in Colombia.
“I’m certain that green energy, hydrogen, non-conventional renewable energy sources and conventional energy like oil and gas will have a lot of interest from the UAE investors in Colombia.
The most recent figure from the UAE’s Ministry of Economy, published in 2020, said the non-oil bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to US$176 million in the first half of 2019.
Duque, 45, is on an official visit to the UAE, and has visited Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) on Friday alongside 50 Colombian business leaders and a delegation of his ministers.
This is his first official visit to the UAE.
The two countries established their diplomatic ties 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 revealed that he will discuss it with Emirati officials today.
“We have been having that conversation with the ambassador of the UAE to Colombia and our ambassador here.
I will meet UAE authorities today [to discuss it further],” he said.
“One of the things that I would love to raise [in the meeting] is to eliminate logistical complexities and be able to connect directly between Colombia and the UAE.
The two countries are working on signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on double taxation avoidance, President Duque said.
When asked whether the UAE could be the second Middle Eastern country, after Israel, to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia, he answered, “I think there is a great opportunity.
We can do something strong, fast, impactful.
We are working on the avoidance of double taxation and there is an investment agreement [with the UAE] that is being discussed in the Congress.
So, why not an FTA? I think it will be a win-win situation.
Duque, who was elected in 2018 as the President, believes that the UAE can be an “accelerator and an important partner” of his vision of turning Colombia into the “Silicon Valley of Latin America.
“Yes, I see the UAE playing a role.
Not only through the [sovereign] funds, but also when it comes to the supply of technology – Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, cybersecurity, blockchain,” he said.
“We have been able to develop technologies that can be suitable for the UAE companies looking towards Latin America.
The UAE can be a very important partner, supporting our country to move more startups in specialised technology; to become providers and be able to connect the UAE can be an accelerator of the vision of Colombia becoming the Silicon Valley of Latin America.
Colombia is an emerging destination for incubation of technology and IT companies.
In 2015, the country was the third largest provider of IT services in Latin America with more than 5,400 companies and sales close to US$2.
5 billion, Luis German Restrepo, the director for ProColombia Miami, had told Forbes.
Talking about the Colombian economy and tourism, President Duque said, “This year, our economy will grow above 8.
5 percent, which will be the best growth [rate for Colombia] in this century.
5 million tourists visited Colombia in 2019.
We want in 2022 to reach a higher level I’m motivated to see Colombia in a post-pandemic world where we will take advantage of our capabilities, including the possibility of having biotourism and ecotourism as an engine for our economic growth,” he concluded.»EXCLUSIVE: Colombia, UAE trade to reach $1 bln by 2030, opening direct flights under discussion, President Duque says«