New Zealand Embassy Santiago, Chile
Historic moment: The first visit of a New Zealand Prime Minister to Colombia
On March 6, Rt Hon John Key and delegation arrived in Bogota for the first visit of a New Zealand Prime Minister to Colombia. The day started with the First Colombia – New Zealand Business Seminar at Club El Nogal, which was organised by the Embassy and NZTE with the support of ProExport and ANDI from Colombia.
The strong interest in Colombia was reflected in the number of attendees. The seminar started with speeches by the Prime Minister and Colombian Foreign Minister and continued with match-making meetings between New Zealand and Colombian businesspeople. The delegation also had the opportunity to promote New Zealand as a first-choice education destination.
During the second part of the day, a formal welcome was given by President Santos and the Colombian First Lady at Casa Nariño, the beautiful neoclassical Government Palace dating from the early 20th century. The long red carpet at the entrance, the guard of honour on both sides and the water fountains were a display that impressed many (photos on our Facebook page). At the Palace, both leaders held talks and later they exchanged rugby balls including onesigned by the “All Blacks”. Afterwards, the delegations went to the elegant Bolivar Room where a state lunch in honour of the Prime Minister was offered.
In the afternoon, the activities continued with agriculture and telecommunication business events as well as an education meeting, all with positive results. To cap off the day, the Embassy gave a cocktail reception in honour of the visit of the Prime Minister with strong attendance including politicians, senior officials and businesspeople. One of the highlights of the night was the tasting of New Zealand wines.
The leaders issued a joint statement, in which the main subjects of the relationship between the two countries were covered, New Zealand Minister of Primary Industries, Hon Nathan Guy and Colombian Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Andrés Felipe García Azuero issued a separate joint statement on agriculture, which summarises cooperation in the sector. The Prime Minister announced that New Zealand would contribute NZ$ 4 million (US$ 3.4 million) to develop a joint development cooperation project to support dairy producers in Colombia.
With regards to education, the importance of the First Bilateral Technical Consultations on Education was emphasised. These are scheduled for May 2013, and will focus on the development of joint initiatives for the internationalisation of higher education, technical and technological education.
The two leaders also agreed that trade liberalisation in the multilateral field, in the Asia Pacific region and between the two countries is crucial for economic growth and job creation for both nations. They agreed that both countries would do a study to examine the benefits of a bilateral FTA to facilitate trade and investment. Additionally, they noted the good progress towards an Air Services Agreement.