Duque strengthens economic ties with Israel on his first official visit


Jerusalem, Nov 8 (EFE) .- The president of Colombia, Ivan Duque, highlighted today in his first official visit to Israel the “historical and brotherhood relationship” between the two countries, based on increasingly close economic and commercial ties thanks to to the signing a year ago of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
“We are at the highest point of the bilateral relationship,” Duque said today in Jerusalem in a joint media intervention with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, whom he invited to visit Colombia.
Duque recalled that under his mandate the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries has been signed, ratified and launched, with which they hope to soon triple the export figures from Colombia to Israel, which amounted to 408 million dollars a year in the period 2010-19.
“Through trade and investment, let us strengthen the ties between our businessmen and our institutions every day,” said the Colombian president from Israel’s presidential residence in Jerusalem.
In August 2020, in the middle of the pandemic and by videoconference, Duque ratified with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the FTA that allows the export to Israel of 7,000 Colombian products without tariffs and 99% of industrial material free of tariffs.
Duque plans to open an “innovation office” tomorrow in Jerusalem, which in practice will function as a liaison office focused on economic affairs with diplomatic representation.
“We are clear that with that office there will be many more Colombian companies that will interact in Israel. Today we already have 79 but we can perfectly triple them,” Duque said about that diplomatic headquarters, which could imply another step for Colombia when it comes to recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel.
Colombia maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv, where the international community transferred its legations from the Holy City when Israel annexed the eastern half of Jerusalem in 1980, which corresponded to the Palestinians in the partition plan.
That paradigm changed in 2019, when former US President Donald Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, a move later followed by Guatemala, Honduras and Kosovo.
“Colombia and Israel are two sister nations. What we have built over the years is not just an economic or commercial relationship, since we share principles such as the defense of democracy, security as a democratic value and public good, and private initiative. as an engine of development, “said Duque.
President Herzog thanked Duque for opening that innovation office in Jerusalem, as well as for supporting Israel on the international stage by voting for him in international organizations.
“His visit to Israel will serve as a qualitative increase in relations between the two countries,” Herzog told Duque, who arrived yesterday in Jerusalem where he made a private visit to the Old City.


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