Officials from Colombia met with representatives from the Government of Barbados recently to discuss closer relations between the two countries.

The Colombian delegation, which included Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Patti Londo??o Jaramillo, and Director of International Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mar??a Andrea Alb??n, held talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean and Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss.

During the meeting, which was held at the Ministry of International Business, Baobab Tower, Warrens, St. Michael, the group discussed pursuing cooperation in a number of areas which would be beneficial to both countries.

The Deputy Minister spoke about the importance of training key personnel and expressed a keen interest in Colombians receiving training in English, particularly for business executives and public service officers.

Minister McClean stated that the University of the West Indies and the Barbados Community College offered excellent programmes in English as a Foreign Language and Barbados would make an ideal language training base for Colombians who wished to enhance their English skills.

Deputy Minister Londo??o expressed the desire to work with Barbados and other CARICOM countries in the area of security. Senator McClean agreed with this proposal and pointed out that such an arrangement could be done through the Regional Security System.

Ms. Londo??o Jaramillo also made reference to having increased trade and investment between the two countries, the possibility of joint ventures, and further collaboration in areas of technical cooperation.

Minister Inniss agreed, and added that his Ministry was at an advanced stage of organising a commercial mission to Colombia in July to promote Barbadian services and products and foster business linkages.

The Minister indicated that meetings with government officials to discuss the negotiation of a Double Taxation Agreement, as well as with Colombian airlines representatives to engage on the establishment of direct air linkages from Colombia to Barbados, were also envisioned.

Minister Inniss thanked the Colombian Government for the technical assistance already received from Colombian agencies Artesanias de Colombia and Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA).

A number of Barbadian artisans, as well as trainers and officers of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, had received training in leather work, jewellery fabrication, fibres, textile dyeing and product development. He added that this training was particularly useful as this country moved forward with plans to use the Black Belly sheep to produce good quality leather.

The officials also discussed continued collaboration on the development of strategies for small island developing states to deal with climate change and sustainable development; the signing of an Air Services Agreement between the two countries; and investment opportunities which would be beneficial to the private sector.

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