XINHUA | 2013-6-11
Israel, Colombia sign free trade agreement
JERUSALEM, June 10 (Xinhua) — Israel signed a free trade deal with Colombia on Monday, seeking to boost economic ties and expand its ventures in South America.
The accord, which capped 18 months of intensive negotiations, was signed by trade officials in Jerusalem during a state visit by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
Trade between the countries is valued at one billion U.S. dollars per year, with some 100 Israeli companies currently active in Colombia in the fields of telecom, water, agriculture and green energy.
Another agreement signed Monday at the end of a meeting between Santos and his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres ratifies an extensive government project aimed at assisting Bogota in adopting innovation via Israeli hi-tech experts and entrepreneurs who will be dispatched to the country, as well as an aviation agreement that paves the way for direct flights between the two countries.
Peres praised Santos for "finding the way" to unite his country amidst an ongoing battle against terror and crime.
"Your visit will provide a renewed push to bilateral cooperation on security, science, technology and agriculture," Peres said, according to a statement.
Santos, who is accompanied by a delegation of senior government ministers and business leaders, said that his country is dealing with "serious challenges" of terror and war.
He said he is visiting Israel on behalf of 47 million Colombians who "wish to express their deep sense of friendship" to Israel.