President Juan Manuel Santos will visit Japan from Sunday until Wednesday to discuss a trade agreement with the Japanese prime minister.
Santos, accompanied by his wife, is to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. The two countries are likely to start a joint industrial, academic and governmental study with the aim of entering into negotiations on a bilateral economic partnership agreement (EPA), reported Japanese daily newspaper The Yomiuri Shimbun.
Japan is expected to increase its exports to Colombia of durable consumer goods such as domestica appliances. Currently, high tariffs of 35% on Japanese imports to Colombia are causing a barrier to trade between the two countries.
According to data from Colombia’s statistics institute DANE, exports to Japan stood at $56.5 million for the month of January 2011 compared to $32.1 million in January 2010 accounting for 1.5% of exports. Coffee tea and spices make up nealy half of all Colombian exports to Japan, followed by fuels and mineral oils.
During the visit, which Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs hopes will “strenghten friendly and cooperative relations” between the two countries, the head of state and the first lady will also meet the Emperor and Empress of Japan.
Japan’s main rival for Colombian economic interests is South Korea. South Korea and Colombia have an FTA. Furthermore the South Korean Ambassador to Bogota has said that his country could be the entry point into the Asian market for Colombian businesses.
India’s Secretary of Commerce recently said that Colombia could be India’s entry point into Latin America.