Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said Wednesday that he expects to sign an investment promotion agreement with South Korea before leaving office on August 7, as a step towards an eventual free trade agreement (FTA) with the Asian nation.
Uribe, whose comments follow a meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak, said that the signing of an “investment promotion agreement will leave the incoming government of President-elect Juan Manuel Santos in a really advanced stage [of negotiations] for a free trade agreement.”
Uribe also expressed his delight that his South Korean counterpart agreed to include Colombian livestock products in the eventual FTA. “I have good news for Colombians: The president of [South] Korea just accepted that in the FTA, Korea will grant Colombian livestock products access to their market.”
The meeting between the two heads of state comes after delegates from the two countries wrapped up their third round of FTA negotiations in Seoul two weeks ago.
Through an FTA, Colombia hopes to diversify its exports to South Korea, which are currently centered around coffee. According to head of the head of Colombia’s trade delegation, Santiago Pardo, Colombia seeks greater access for its agricultural products, as well as to strengthen its presence in the fishing and industrial sectors.
Trade between the two countries was worth U$1.23 billion in 2008. Colombia imports mainly cars and electronic goods from the Asian nation, and exports coffee, coal and nickel in return.