Korea and Colombia are expected to increase their mutual cooperation in various fields following the official state visit of President Park Geun-hye to Colombia on April 17, 2015.
Welcoming President Park, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia said, “This visit represents a new milestone in these 53 years of healthy diplomatic relations. Personally, I have had the privilege to visit Korea in 2011 and today we are harvesting the fruit of that visit.” Excerpts from the speech follow:
Excerpts from the speech of President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia:
I would like to give, on behalf 48 million Colombians, the warmest welcome to the President of the Republic of Korea, Park Geun-hye and her delegation.
This is the second official visit from a Head of Government from the Republic of Korea to our country during my administration. And, on this occasion she is accompanied by more than 70 prominent businessmen.
This visit represents a new milestone in these 53 years of healthy diplomatic relations.
Personally, I have had the privilege to visit Korea in 2011 and today we are harvesting the fruit of that visit.
At present, we have subscribed an Agreement for Reciprocal Protection of Investments and a Free Trade Agreement, which is only missing the approval of the Constitutional Court from the Colombian side.
During our dialogue today we spoke about how are we going to benefit from the legal frameworks already in force or from those becoming reality soon.
We identified specific points and, in the Colombian case the Free Trade Agreement will benefit our agro-industrial sector, because Korea is a major importer of foods and agricultural products and we are very interested in becoming suppliers of those products for Korea.
In terms of investment, Korea is the second most important Asian investor in our country and, moreover we have a Strategic Partnership Agreement between the nations.
Of course, we never forget the special bond that ties us together with Koreans, as a result of the Colombian Army’s presence during the Korean War.
I shared with President Park the developments on the peace process and I am grateful for the decisive and strong-willed support offered to us Colombians to achieve this desire and also, I thank her condolences regarding the recent events.
We established areas where Korea can help during the post-conflict and between the countries there is cooperation in areas like: science & technology, environment, defense & security, innovation and culture.
We agreed to increase these areas‘ momentum and many of them are translating into agreements. Furthermore, we spoke about a subject that interests us greatly and it is Education, where Korea is a worldwide example, in how to create a system to effectively produce the best results.
Specifically, our Minister of Education, (Gina Parody), requested technical support and cooperation in the elaboration of our ten-year Education plan as well as granting scholarships for our program called Ser Pilo Paga. Our focus in this country is because Korea holds ten universities among the top one hundred universities in the world.
In terms of Defense, cooperation has been of great importance: we have established ties and concrete projects regarding security.
I am very glad that a new agreement for cooperation to strengthen the fight against crime and delinquency has been signed.
Korea has also been successful in creating systems that enable and facilitate trade and effective information systems. We would like to take part in this technology and we will work hard to translate this vision into reality.
In this area, the agreement that has been signed is named Cero Papel, which means to digitize all foreign trade procedures.
With regard to Foreign Trade we would like to start up a very similar system, if not identical to the one Korea operates in its customs control.
Finally, we would like to thank you, again, President Park and your delegation for visiting us in this tour through Latin America, and for being the first country you stopped by. You will always be welcomed with warm hearts and open arms.
President Park Geun-hye and President Juan Manuel Santos had a joint press meeting during her stay in Colombia. Details follows:
Korea, Colombia to boost partnership in value-added sectors
President Park Geun-hye and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos have said in a joint statement that, "We intend to strengthen our bilateral partnership in high value-added industries."
President Park and Colombian President Santos took part in a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Bogota after holding a bilateral summit there on April 17.
"During this visit, the two nations signed 18 memoranda of understanding (MOUs) in the fields of energy, security, health, financial assistance and infrastructure construction, among others. This will provide a foundation to diversify bilateral cooperation, which I think is very meaningful," said President Park.
"We also agreed to reinforce bilateral cooperation on national defense and the defense industry, based on a previous MOU, which will have important meaning for the development of our bilateral relationship," said President Park. "With such a foundation, many great Korean enterprises will become essential partners in Colombia`s national development."
"The free trade agreement between Korea and Colombia, which was reached in June 2012, is Colombia`s first FTA with an Asian country. I hope that the FTA will take effect quickly, after the necessary in-country review processes," said President Park. "In addition, a bilateral MOU in electronic commerce and electronic trade was signed. This will complement the FTA and more effectively overcome geographical barriers, which will contribute to the expansion of bilateral trade."
In response, President Santos said, "The Korea-Colombia FTA will bring great benefits to Colombia`s agricultural sector. Korea imports a lot of agriculture for its food and Colombia can supply a sufficient amount of those needs."
"The two nations also agreed on the importance of cooperating on education. Korea is a model country that has a successful, world-class education system," said President Santos. "Colombia`s education minister asked his Korean counterpart for technological cooperation on education. As of today, 10 Korean schools are included in the list of the world`s top 500 universities."
In addition, President Park said, "We have reaffirmed that Korea and Colombia, as partners in the Pacific Rim Era of the 21st century, have a lot to cooperate on, dealing with regional and global issues. We also agreed to continually send a firm, unified message that North Korea`s nuclear armament will never be acceptable."