Japan is most attracted by Colombia’s coal mining boom, a representative of a Japan-Colombia trade body told Colombia Reports Thursday, following the announcement of imminent negotiations for a free trade agreement between the two countries.
“The mining sector may be the most attractive for Japan,” said Claudia Sanmiguel, sub-director of the Colombia-Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, when asked about possible Colombian exports to Japan apart from the traditional coffee and flowers.
Sanmiguel said that the Japanese “are coming to buy mines and not just extract the product,” and that the Colombian mining sector is currently experiencing a “boom.”
She gave the example of Itochu Corporation which bought a 20% stake in Drummond’s International which has two mines in Colombia and Mitsui Brazil to looking for coal mines in Colombia.
Sanmiguel also said that Colombia’s agricultural industry could be a source of exports to Japan, as the Asian nation has high demand for foodstuff and “does not have its own production,” and that Colombia is viewed as strong in relation to organic production.
However, Colombia’s agriculture industry will have to face the challenge of meeting the standards of quality demanded by the Japanese in terms of food processing and plant health warned Sanmiguel.
When asked about the free trade agreement, the expert in trade relations clarified “What they are going to sign is an Agreement of Economic Partnership which includes the FTA.”
She went on to say that an Economic Partnership Agreement is much more comprehensive than a free trade agreement because it includes better economic and technological co-operation and the transfer of knowledge.
On the subject of transport infrastructure, Sanmiguel again spoke of the transfer of knowledge. Sanmiguel said the Japanese could help with the construction of tunnels, bridges, and viaducts as well as the metro system of Bogota but emphasized that they be in a supporting role.
“What we want is for the Japanese to teach us to construct the tunnels, build the metro, that there be a transfer of knowledge and technology,” she said.
President Santos visited Japan in September during which he and counterpart Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda signed the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments Agreement.
During the state visit Santos also requested Japanese help in construction of the Bogota metro.