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130 years of Colombian-German collaborations

Article - February 20, 2012
Colombia and Germany first established diplomatic relations in 1882, and interaction between the two countries has always been on a basis of warmth and mutual respect
Since early 2007, bilateral political relations have been strengthened and have taken on a much more visible dynamic through numerous high-level exchange visits in both countries, comprising both political and entrepreneurial parties who have developed a range of trade and investment links.

The market for imports and exports between Colombia and Germany has been changing rapidly in recent years, with trade increasing considerably, helped by factors such as well-publicised trade missions, and Lufthansa launching direct flights between the two countries.

“Historically we have had a trade deficit with Germany. For example, in 2002 we had an export of $250 million, with 60% of our exports being coffee and bananas. Imports were $1.658 billion consisting primarily of aircraft and engines,” says Juan Mayr Maldonado, Colombia’s Ambassador to Germany. “But there is also an important factor that I would not overlook: some 80% of German exports are generated by small and medium enterprises and that creates an equitable social base, which has led us to insist on training processes within the German model of education for our country. This is a very important element, the fact that the Colombian model of education is based on the German system, so that a common ground already exists.”

Germany is one of the countries with the highest levels of foreign direct investment, but Colombia accounts for only 0.07% of that investment. With the great potential we have, our goal is to double or triple this investment thanks to the work going on between the two countries. Germany is a fantastic country, very active in cultural, scientific and political arenas, and this means that Germany is a priority for us.”

The Ambassador points out Colombia’s biodiversity as one area that is of particular interest to German investors and strengthening the bonds between the two countries. “Products that come out of our biodiversity include medicines, fibers, paints, and many other elements that make up much of the global economy. Colombia is the country with the greatest biodiversity per square kilometre on the planet.”

In addition to the areas of science, technology and innovation as being important for future development between the two countries, Mr Maldonado also highlights his homeland’s cultural mix that is increasingly drawing attention. “Colombia is a country of great cultural diversity, we have all kinds of folklore, crafts and languages. We have 84 languages, which are integral to our roots, and this is related to our biodiversity, so dear and so attractive to visitors to our country.”

He adds: “The environment is another priority issue for both our countries and for the developments that have been doing in Germany. I am an expert on environmental issues, this is one of the key points on the government’s agenda [for increased collaboration]. By 2013 and early 2014, we anticipate that we will have a big event in Germany, to present and position Colombia in Germany. This is something that we are working on as part of our calendar of events for the coming years.”