Colombia: Traditional trade, ideas and art

| September 29, 2019 | 0 Comments
Colombia, whose capital of Bogota is shown here, has had a free trade agreement with Canada since 2008 and last year, it sent $865 million worth of exports to Canada.

Colombia, whose capital of Bogota is shown here, has had a free trade agreement with Canada since 2008 and last year, it sent $865 million worth of exports to Canada.

Colombia’s commercial relationship with Canada has grown over time, and our goal and responsibility is to ensure continued growth in the import and export of new goods and services, but also of ideas and art.
In 2018, exports from Colombia to Canada were worth $865 million. Of this, 64 per cent belonged to the mining and energy sector; the rest included coffee, flowers and processed foods. It is likely that one of the cups of coffee you had this week was made from Colombian beans and the roses you bought recently as a gift or to decorate your house came from our country as well. And if, by any chance, your coffee was not from Colombia, give yourself a gift and try a cup of our amazing product.
Canada, meanwhile, sent nearly $746 million worth of goods to Colombia, including cereals (wheat, barley), machinery, vegetables (pulses such as lentils, peas, chickpeas) and paper fertilizers.
All of the above is exciting and positive; however, we want to broaden the spectrum of the goods we export and look to the industries of the 21st Century. Let’s talk about some of them.
Colombia has the most stable levels of solar radiation in Latin America. Even though 70 per cent of our energy matrix is clean, mainly because of hydro, our country only produces 50 megawatts of energy from non-conventional sources such as the sun and wind. Our government has established an ambitious goal, which is to increase production of clean and non-conventional energies to 1,500 megawatts over the next three years. To do so, we are inviting renewable energy bids so companies from all around the world can participate in this national goal. We hope many Canadian companies can take part in this process. As a government, we are determined to make Colombia a leader in sustainability. It is pertinent to highlight that Colombia only emits 0.4 per cent of global carbon emissions, but is one of the 20 countries most vulnerable to the effects of global warming.
Second, let me refer to the importance and focus we have on the creative industries and the orange economy. President Ivan Duque has been one of the most avid promoters of cultural industries as engines of economic growth. Our talents appear in literature, movies, design, programming, digital development, theatre and the arts overall. This segment of the Colombian economy represented 3.4 per cent of our GDP last year, and our government’s goal is to reach six per cent by 2020. In order to promote these new industries, the government established a seven-year exemption of income tax for such industries that move to and invest in Colombia. We strongly believe in the necessity of growing the economy in a sustainable manner, and as such, we found a way to do so through these creative industries.
Finally, let’s talk about tourism. Duque has called tourism “our new oil.” We are a country rich in biodiversity, with two oceans, deserts, mountains and Amazonia, all of which make us a territory of unimaginable tourism opportunities. Visitors can experience our natural beauty as well as our growing and modern cities, with true examples of social innovation, as in Medellin, but also of unique gastronomy, design and art production. In order to promote investment and tourism in Canada, in May 2019, our government lifted the entry fee that Canadians previously had to pay on arrival.
I’m deeply honoured to represent Colombia in Canada. Our love for and interest in nature, sustainability, diversity and innovation as an engine to thrive in the 21st Century unite us as countries. The free trade agreement we have had with Canada since 2011 is a concrete tool to seek bilateral investment and growth in the exchange of services and goods. We both can continue to prosper as nations by deepening our understanding of each other and strengthening economic ties. We are open to sharing more with you over a cup of coffee and a piece of Colombian chocolate at our embassy or anywhere else in Ottawa, or in any other Canadian city or town. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Federico Hoyos is Colombia’s ambassador to Canada. Reach him at federico.hoyos@cancilleria.gov.co or (343) 999-2064.

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Federico Hoyos is Colombia’s ambassador to Canada. Reach him at federico.hoyos@cancilleria.gov.co or (343) 999-2064.

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