Colombia wants to join the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) next year as the two sides will celebrate their 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations, said Colombian Ambassador to China, Luis Diego Monsalve.
In an interview during the China Inbound-Outbound Forum 2019, held in Beijing last weekend, Monsalve noted that the BRI is an excellent way to promote investment, trade and closer economic relations between China and countries around the world.
Many Latin American countries have been part of the BRI’s expansion. However, Colombia has not yet joined. “Next year would mark the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between China and Colombia since February 1980. At that time, Colombia would participate in the Belt & Road Initiative,” he said.
In July 2019, Colombian President Ivan Duque Marquez visited China and talked with Chinese President Xi Jinping, hoping to create a China-Colombia initiative under the framework of BRI for the next 40 years, Monsalve noted.
Referring to the China International Import Expo (CIIE) that will kick off on November 5, in Shanghai, Ambassador commented that it was a significant exposition and believed that trade between China and Colombia could be boosted through it.
“Compared with other Latin American countries, Colombia is one of the countries that have the lowest percentage of trade with China. I think this situation will improve through the Chinese market with nearly 400 million middle and upper-class people capable of spending and buying,” he said.
Last year, during the first-ever CIIE, Colombia didn’t have an exhibition booth. However, this year, Colombia has four different exhibition booths to show its flowers, coffee, bananas and other goods, said Monsalve.
“Through CIIE, we, Colombia, expect China to learn more about the goods in Colombia and import beef, pork and other agricultural products from us,” he said.
The ambassador also congratulated China on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
“It is a different country from what people thought in their minds 40 or 50 years ago. What China has done, especially in the last 40 years with the reform and opening up, impresses me a lot,” he said.
China has lifted over 800 million people out of poverty in the past 70 years. “No country in the world has brought so many people out of poverty in a short period of time,” he stressed, adding that all developing countries, including Colombia, should learn how to eliminate poverty from China.
He also mentioned that China’s energy development, as well as its technological development, impressed him a great deal.