Knapen: Netherlands to stop development aid to Colombia
The Netherlands is phasing out its development aid to Colombia. International affairs minister Ben Knapen is currently in the country with a trade mission representing 12 Dutch companies to facilitate the transition from development aid to economic relations. The motto is: ‘from aid to trade’.
‘Colombia’s economy is growing at a healthy pace, so it no longer needs aid,’ said Mr Knapen. ‘It plans to boost sustainable agricultural production and there is also a need for integrated water management. This will open up a wide range of opportunities for Colombia and the Netherlands alike.’
Mr Knapen began his visit in Santa Marta, at a banana plantation where fruit is grown sustainably for Dutch supermarkets. This public-private partnership, involving companies such as PLUS Supermarkten, Fyffes and Max Havelaar, also provides jobs for ex-guerrillas and for farmers who have lost their land as a result of the conflict.
The Netherlands will continue its involvement in this project in the years ahead. The main aim is to increase production, in order to meet the growing demand for fair trade bananas in the Netherlands and other countries.
The minister had earlier spoken with victims of the conflict, local community leaders and observers monitoring the peace and land restitution process. He stressed that the Netherlands will continue to support the peace process and human rights defenders, both politically and in a multilateral framework.
With a growth rate of 5.9% in 2011, Colombia is developing into one of the strongest economies in Latin America. In the coming years the Netherlands will mainly try to improve the business climate, using funds from the Transition Facility. ‘By promoting peace and legal certainty as well, we are helping to create the conditions for Dutch companies to do business in Colombia,’ said Mr Knapen.
After visiting Santa Marta, the minister flew to Bogotá to hold talks with knowledge institutions and companies in the water, coffee, banana and flower sectors on the scope for Dutch-Colombian cooperation.