Colombia on Monday formalized a bilateral free trade agreement with Israel, ratifying an accord signed this past June.
The agreement was signed in Jerusalem by Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett and Colombian Industry and Tourism Minister Sergio Diaz-Granados.
The agreement stipulates a reduction of tariffs on agricultural and industrial products traded between the two countries. Beginning next year, 70 percent of exports from one to country to another will be exempt from trade barriers and import taxes and by the end of the decade that number will extend to 100 percent of products.
In June of this year, while visiting Israel to sign the accord, President Juan Manuel Santos said he hoped the trade agreement will “increase employment in Colombia.”
According Colombian newspaper El Colombiano, the trade balance between the two countries exceeded $680 million in 2012, favoring the Latin American country by 78 percent. According to reports, Colombia exports mostly coffee, coal, emeralds and other basic goods to Israel. Israeli imports into Colombia include mostly manufactured products, including communication, chemical, electrical and mechanical devices, according to Israeli newspaper Times of Israel.
There are reports of Israeli-Colombian security cooperation, including discussion in Colombia of importing Israeli weapon technology, such as unmanned drones, to fight rebel groups in the countryside.
According to Shanghai Daily, the Israeli president Peres praised Santos for his visit and efforts to strengthen ties with Jerusalem this past summer, saying “your visit will provide a renewed push to bilateral cooperation on security, science, technology and agriculture.”
The trade deal will allow Israel, which has been looking for trade partners and investment opportunities outside of Europe since the crisis of the European Union, to invest with greater ease in Colombia, considered one of the strongest economies in Latin America.
- Israel, Colombia sign free trade agreement (Times of Israel)
- Colombia firmó TLC con Israel confirmó Mincomercio (Caracol Radio)
- Israel, Colombia sign free trade agreement (Shanghai Daily)
- Este lunes se firma TLC entre Colombia e Israel (El Colombiano)