Minister Schultz leads business mission to Colombia

From 30 August to 4 September, Minister Schultz van Haegen of Infrastructure and the Environment is leading an economic mission to Colombia. The delegation consists of representatives from 17 Dutch companies and organisations and the focus is on cooperation in the field of integrated water management. In addition, attention will be paid to the Colombian government’s large-scale investment programme for port development and inland waterways, roads, rail, urban development and airport expansion. 

Colombia had to deal with severe floods in 2010/2011. Consequently, since 2011, Colombia and the Netherlands have been collaborating intensively on a number of projects, including a Coastal Defence Master Plan and the Room for the River project for the Cauca River. Moreover, Dutch dredging companies are also carrying out several projects. Colombia is also one of the initiators of the Delta Coalition, together with the Netherlands and Japan. This partnership of “low-lying countries” is aimed at making vulnerable deltas a higher priority on international agendas. Alongside expanding the intensive relationship in the field of water, the mission aims to provide a clearer picture of what the Dutch business community could mean for assignments arising from the Colombian government’s infrastructure programme. 

Programme

Minister Schultz will have various bilateral talks in Bogotá, including with the Minister of Housing, Luis Felipe Henao Cardona, the Minister of Transport, Natalia Abello Vives, the Director of the National Planning Department, Simon Gaviria, and Environment Minister Gabriel Vallejo Lopez. In addition, Minister Schultz will visit the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM). The subject of discussion will be early warning systems that can be used to alert the public about the threat of floods. The delegation will also visit El Dorado Airport, one of the country’s largest airports, which will double in size in the years ahead. 

In Cartegena, Minister Schultz will have a meeting with Mayor José Lopez and she will attend a seminar on Integrated Water Management. The seminar will focus on port development, water-resilient cities and Room for the River. The Minister will make a field trip to the Canal del Dique project, in which Dutch knowledge and know-how is being used to improve the navigability and discharge capacity of the river. During a coach trip along the Caribbean coast to Barranquilla, the Minister will observe the problems being caused by coastal erosion.

The mission is a follow-up to the visit former Minister of Transport Cecilia Álvarez-Correa Glen made to the Netherlands in October 2013. In November 2014, Lilianne Ploumen, Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, led an economic mission to Colombia. The economic ties between the Netherlands and Colombia are strong. The Netherlands is the fourth largest investor in Colombia and the fifth largest exporter to Colombia. The transition from aid to trade has been a smooth and positive one. Colombia and the Netherlands are equal trading partners and both countries aim to strengthen this economic cooperation to boost their economies.