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Boosting trade ties with Colombia

Economics Minister Doris Leuthard is on a four-day visit to Colombia aimed at stepping up trade relations.

“It will be interesting to find out how much progress has been made for a free trade agreement,” Leuthard said.

Negotiations for an accord between Colombia and the European Free Trade Area, comprising Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, is expected to be concluded by next spring.

Colombia is one of the focus countries of Switzerland’s international economic policy. The trade volume doubled to more than $1 billion (SFr1.1 billion) over the past four years.

Swiss investment in Colombia was SFr1.2 billion in 2007, while Swiss companies employ about 11,000 staff.

Leuthard’s visit includes talks with President Álvaro Uribe in the capital, Bogotá, as well as meetings in the business hub Medellín and in Cartagena, where she’s due to open an honorary consulate.

Bilateral relations have been strained over the role of a Swiss mediator in the conflict between the Colombian government and leftwing rebels.

The Swiss delegation arrived in Colombia on Sunday following a six-day trip to the United States. with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR