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Coffee fuels growth plans for UAE-Colombia trade

A Colombian grower picks coffee fruits at a plantation in Pueblorrico. Only Brazil and Vietnam produce more coffee Reuters/Luisa Gonzalez
A Colombian grower picks coffee fruits at a plantation in Pueblorrico. Only Brazil and Vietnam produce more coffee
  • DMCC roadshow in Bogotá
  • Cepa aims to triple trade
  • First Gulf-South America deal

The UAE finalised the terms of a trade deal with Colombia on Saturday as a Dubai free zone is also targeting growth with the commodities-rich nation.

The comprehensive economic partnership agreement (Cepa) is the first bilateral trade deal between the Gulf and South America.

Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC) brought its Made for Trade Live roadshow to Colombia’s capital Bogotá and the coffee-growing region of Risaralda in recent weeks.

The Latin American country is a trade and production centre for commodities including emeralds, gold, coffee and cacao, making it a key strategic market for DMCC.

UAE-Colombia trade stands at $272 million, according to DMCC, and investment is expected to triple once the Cepa comes into force.

Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE minister of state for foreign trade, said in a social media post on Saturday that the two countries could “look ahead to a new era of cooperation that will deliver growth for both nations”.

The trade deal will “remove or reduce tariffs on the majority of product lines, eliminate unnecessary barriers to trade, improve market access and deepen collaboration” across a variety of sectors, including energy, telecommunications, tourism and food production, reported the UAE state-owned news agency Wam.

Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman of DMCC, described Colombia during the roadshow as a “vibrant market with huge export potential from emeralds to gold and technology”. 

It is also a powerhouse in agriculture: the world’s third largest coffee producer (after Brazil and Vietnam), one of the top 10 producers of cacao and one of the most water-rich countries on Earth. 

UAE defence giant Edge Group is targeting Colombia for growth too. It will participate in Expodefensa 2023 in Bogotá this week.

Mansour Al Mulla, managing director at Edge, said he was looking at “deepening relationships and expanding collaborations” across Latin America.

The UAE is the main trading partner of Colombia in the Arab world, with their exchange accounting for 40 percent of Colombia’s trade with the region in 2020.

More than 150 Colombian business leaders were briefed on the commercial appeal of Dubai during Made for Trade Live events in October.

The roadshow follows a visit to Colombia in June by a senior business delegation from the UAE, led by Reem bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy, minister of state for international cooperation. It included sovereign wealth funds Mubadala and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

Also in June, Dubai-based miner Fura Gems said it would invest $200 million in its Colombian emerald mine over the next five years.

Colombia’s GDP increased by 7.3 percent in 2022, but growth is projected to slow to 1.7 percent this year, according to the World Bank.

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