Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos visited China earlier this month, where he and Chinese President Hu Jintao signed an agreement to begin considerations for a free trade agreement. In an email interview, Benjamin Creutzfeldt, a lecturer and researcher in contemporary China studies at Externado University in Bogota, Colombia, discussed relations between Colombia and China.
WPR: What is driving increased diplomatic and economic ties between China and Colombia over the past decade?
Benjamin Creutzfeldt: The driving force behind contact between China and Colombia has been and continues to be trade. Over the past decade, China’s need for the types of raw materials that Colombia possesses has grown, and Beijing has successfully expanded trade relations with other Latin American countries, in particular Chile, Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. These ties have given Chinese companies some experience to guide their approach to the Colombian market. Furthermore, the success of the previous Colombian administration under former President Alvaro Uribe in expanding government control over Colombia’s territory increased confidence among potential foreign investors. Meanwhile, the growth in Colombian imports of Chinese goods is largely driven by Colombian entrepreneurs and specialized sourcing offices in Shanghai, Yiwu and Shenzhen.