BOGOTA – European Union lawmakers wrapped up a three-day visit to Colombia in the most colorful of ways with a tour of a flower farm near Bogota, where this key export product is cultivated before being shipped, among other places, to ports in the Old Continent.
A delegation of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade arrived in the Andean nation on Monday to assess implementation of the EU-Colombia free-trade agreement, which took effect in 2013.
They concluded their visit on Wednesday with a tour of the Jardines de los Andes flower farm, located 25 kilometers (15 miles) outside Bogota.
Their eyes were treated to more than 40 varieties of flowers: Peruvian lilies, bellflowers, sunflowers, chrysanthemums and many other species, all of which were intensely cultivated for more than a month so as to be ready for Valentine’s Day.
The manager of Jardines de los Andes, Sofia Herrera, who gave the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) a guided tour of the farm, told EFE that the trade agreement had favored flower growers.
“We’ve imported machinery. We’ve reached technology and knowledge exchange agreements,” she said.
Herrera noted that the trade agreement, in effect since Aug. 1, 2013, had not had a major impact on flower exports because the challenge of shipping that product to Europe is a logistical rather than a tariff-related one.
She added though that the accord was “undoubtedly very positive for the industry” and said she hoped it would be further developed in the future.
The European delegation met Monday with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Trade, Industry and Tourism Minister Maria Lorena Gutierrez.
After getting a look at the vibrant Colombian flower industry, the MEPs departed for Peru.
Colombian flower exports grew 5 percent in 2017 from the previous year to a volume of 246,000 tons, according to figures from the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters (Asocolflores).
The United States remains the primary destination for Colombian flower exports, accounting for 75 percent of the total.
The market for that product, however, is truly worldwide, with flowers being shipped to 98 different countries.