20th March 2019
Minister Pat Breen TD concludes a four-day visit to Colombia, the first Ministerial visit since the opening of the Irish Embassy in Bogotá in January 2019 and the appointment of Alison Milton as the first resident Irish Ambassador to Colombia. The visit has been hugely significant in terms of developing Ireland’s bilateral trade links with Colombia.
While there, the Minister led the first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade in Colombia on the city’s renowned cycleway. The Irish community, as well as diplomats, friends of the Irish and international communities, musicians, and Colombian officials, participated in the parade.
The Minister had a high level meeting with the Colombian Government, led by Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, accompanied by four other Ministers and national investment agencies. Opportunities for exchange in the areas of innovation, science and technology were discussed. The Colombian side is very interested in hosting a trade mission to explore further opportunities for trade with Colombia. The Minister also met with his counterparts in the Ministry of Finance to discuss the start of negotiations on a double taxation agreement with Colombia.
Following the high level meeting, Minister Breen signed a Memorandum of Understanding – an agreement between Teagasc and their equivalent institute in Colombia, Agrosavia. This agreement should lead to cooperation in the areas of agri-tech, agroforestry and food safety.
Commenting on his visit, Minister Breen said: “Ireland-Colombia relations are at an all-time high. Marking the opening of Ireland’s new embassy in Bogotá, my meeting with five Colombian Government Ministers covered a wide range of topics - Ireland’s support of the peace process, the opportunities for knowledge and research exchange in science and technology, and the potential for expansion of trade between our two countries. On Sunday over 300 people joined us in the first ever St Patrick’s Day parade. This partnership is likely to grow from strength to strength in the years ahead with significant market potential for Irish companies. A well worthwhile visit at an important juncture”.
The Minister also travelled to Colombia’s second largest city, Medellín, where he met with senior level Colombian and Irish business interests. Enterprise Ireland clients SEPAM/CleanTech, Mainstream Renewable Technologies, and Santos Dupont were present, as well as Irelandia’s Viva Air and Smurfit Kappa. Senior Colombian business figures interested in exploring opportunities for business with Ireland were also present.
The Minister will conclude his visit by giving a keynote address in the EAFIT university in Medellín “Ireland and Colombia forging a stronger relationship in a new post-Brexit era”.
The Minister visited Colombia during his eight day St Patrick’s Day programme where he also held-high level meetings with business and political groups in Paraguay and Uruguay.
Notes to the Editor:
- As part of Global Ireland new mission opening, Embassy of Ireland in Bogotá opened in January 2019. This is the first time Ireland has had a resident Ambassador in Colombia.
- Minister Breen’s visit is the first Ministerial visit since the opening, and as a result has got quite a bit of political attention. The Foreign Minister of Colombia, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, hosted a breakfast meeting for Minister Breen with three other Ministers (Technology, Information and Innovation; Agriculture; and Commerce). This level of political engagement would be quite unusual with this type of visit so shows the commitment of the Colombian Government to welcoming Ireland’s presence.
- Ireland’s programme in Colombia focuses on a number of areas: support to the peace process (whereby Ireland has provided over €10m in funding to support the Colombian peace process and to share experiences from Ireland); human rights (Ireland provides funding to a number of UN and civil society human rights organisations); support to Irish business active in Colombia (the largest of these is Smurfit Kappa that employ of 3,000 people in Colombia and has over 40% of the paper and packaging market; followed by Irelandia’s Viva Air which has 14% of the internal airline market. Mainstream Technologies, Rubicon Infrastructure Advisors and SEPAM/CleanTech are also active); promote Irish culture (St Patrick’s Day celebrations are a key part of this); and provide consular services to Irish citizens (approximately 80 are known to reside in Colombia).
- The Mayor of Bogotá agreed to a St Patrick’s Day Parade, along Bogotá’s renowned and quite unique cycleway. Bogotá is one of the most congested cities in the world and has over 200km of cycleways that over 2m people use on a Sunday. This is the first ever public St Patrick’s Day parade held in Colombia, reflecting the growth of bilateral relations between the two countries.
- Prior to arriving in Colombia, Minister Breen visited Paraguay and Uruguay where he met a number of Government Ministers and officials to discuss opportunities for developing trade and bilateral relations.
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