Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos began an official state visit to China on Tuesday aimed at developing a trade agreement and boosting Chinese investment.
The president arrived in Beijing for a five-day stay as part of a larger trade mission seeking to expand Colombian trade and political ties with Asian nations.
“As we did in Japan last year, here in China we will explore the possibility of negotiating a Free Trade Agreement,” Santos said upon landing in Beijing, according to a government statement.
The ministers of agriculture and mines and energy are accompanying the president and will attempt to attract Chinese investment to their respective sectors and increase Colombian exports, including meat products.
“There is a special case where we will initiate a process that allows health authorities to export meat,” said Santos.”But that is one of many products we will try to negotiate with them to open their markets up to us,” he added.
The regions contain scarce ores, including coltan, which is vital for manufacturing mobile phones.
Cardenas is expected to gauge Chinese interest in developing Colombia’s capacity to mine what he called “the most expensive” and “strategic” ore.
Santos’ agenda Wednesday includes a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao and a speech on the development of Colombia’s democracy at the University of Beijing, according to local media.
He will also meet Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and visit the country’s financial hub, Shanghai.
“In Colombia we want to attract Chinese investment and open markets here in China,” Santos said in a statement. “That translates into more jobs for Colombians and that is our fundamental purpose. We are hopeful because the signals we have received are that China is going to give great importance to this visit,”
The China visit comes after a stop in Singapore, where Santos pushed for greater economic ties between the two nations during the first official visit from a Colombian president to Singapore.