Colombia’s president arrives in China on a mission to boost trade ties

Colombian President Ivan Duque will begin a three-day visit to China today at the invitation of Xi Jinping. This visit

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Photo: AP/A Brandon

Colombian President Ivan Duque will begin a three-day visit to China today at the invitation of Xi Jinping.

This visit marks Mr Duque’s first trip to China since he was elected president in 2018; boosting trade and investment between the two countries is a priority for the Colombian delegation.

Unlike many of its neighbours, Colombia’s economic ties with China remain limited. Anchored by a 2006 free trade deal, the United States is Colombia’s biggest trading partner, and China’s investments in Colombia totals just $32 million—dwarfed by the $1.5 billion that flows each year from the US.

Mr Duque’s drive to establish China as a destination for Colombian exports may be partly fuelled by a mega-port project on Colombia’s Pacific coast, which was given the go-ahead by congress last year. The $300 million Tribuga port is designed to open up the country’s coffee-growing region to global markets. The project is a key measure as Bogota seeks to diversify Colombia’s economy away from oil and coal, which account for almost 50% of the country’s exports.

However, although Colombian lawmakers support Duque’s economic direction, the country still has a deep pro-American stance—something the president will seek to balance in Beijing today.