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UAE strikes Colombia deal to strengthen Latin American links

Workers at Cano Limon oil field in eastern Colombia. Oil is one of the country's largest exports Reuters
Workers at Cano Limon oil field in eastern Colombia. Oil is one of the country's largest exports
  • UAE-Colombia trade worth $53m
  • 1.8% growth predicted
  • New Dubai-Bogotá route

The UAE has strengthened trade relations with Latin America after signing a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with Colombia, just days after a Cepa deal was struck with Costa Rica.

Officials from the UAE and Colombia put pen to paper on an agreement that will cut tariffs and remove trade barriers between the two countries.

UAE president Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said the partnership would “open a promising new chapter in deepening economic ties between the two nations”.

Bilateral non-oil trade between the UAE and Colombia increased by 43 percent last year to an all-time high of just over $53 million.

The Cepa will “open pathways for investment and joint ventures” in energy, the environment, hospitality, tourism, infrastructure, agriculture and food production, according to a report by state-run Wam news agency.

Latin America’s fourth-largest economy is forecast to grow by 1.8 percent this year after growth of only 0.6 percent in 2023, according to the country’s finance minister, Ricardo Bonilla.

Around two-thirds of Colombia’s exports go to the US, Canada or the rest of Latin America, meaning it struggles to reach Asian, European and Middle Eastern markets. 

More than half of exports are minerals such as crude and refined oil and coal. Less than 20 percent are manufactured goods, which provide the biggest added value. In service exports, over 60 percent comes from tourism.

“UAE and Colombian ports and our peoples may embrace in friendship, solidarity and goodwill, which is what can actually save humanity,” said Colombian president Gustavo Petro.

Dubai airline Emirates will launch a daily service from Dubai to Bogotá, Colombia, starting on June 3. The new route will be its fourth gateway into South America, joining São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.

The deal with Colombia is the latest in the UAE’s Cepa programme, which was set up in 2021. 

Since then the UAE has reached agreements with more than a dozen countries including India, South Korea, Kenya and the Republic of Congo as it looks to advance non-oil foreign trade past AED4 trillion ($1 trillion) by 2031.

Negotiations are also taking place with Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

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