Knapen and trade delegation in Colombia
On Monday, Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation Ben Knapen left for a short working visit to Colombia, accompanied by a trade mission representing 12 Dutch companies and knowledge institutions.
Mr Knapen is keen to see how focusing development policy on economic growth and self-reliance is turning aid into trade in Colombia. He will also be looking at how the government’s Transition Facility is helping to create a climate that will benefit both the Colombian and Dutch business communities. ‘In the interests of both our countries, I am keen to reach an agreement on cooperation and on moving from development cooperation to a bilateral economic relationship,’ Mr Knapen said. Sustainable economic activities, a sound legal order, conflict resolution, corporate social responsibility and human rights are important preconditions for both Dutch and Colombian businesses.
Mr Knapen will be visiting a sustainable banana plantation in the northern region of Santa Marta. Dutch development aid has enabled the plantation to deliver sustainable products for Dutch supermarkets while providing jobs for former guerrillas and displaced persons. Mr Knapen will also be meeting with community leaders and those affected by the internal conflict in Colombia. In the capital Bogotá he will be discussing water and water management with the Colombian Minister of the Environment, Housing and Territorial Development, Beatriz Elena Uribe Botero, and meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Juan Camilo Restrepo. Mr Knapen will also be discussing sustainable trade in coffee, flowers and bananas with NGOs and Dutch and Colombian businesses.
Colombia’s ambition is to become the third largest economy in Latin America by 2014. The Netherlands is the country’s third largest global export destination ¬– and the largest within Europe. Colombia, like South Africa and Vietnam, is one of the countries with which the Netherlands is ending its development relationship to make the transition to a bilateral trade relationship.
Following his visit to Colombia, Mr Knapen will be travelling to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil where he will be leading the Dutch delegation to the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, which opens on Wednesday.