BOGOTA – Colombian President Ivan Duque praised on Monday South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon’s support for his country’s membership bid for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
In a joint statement after a meeting in Bogota, Duque thanked Lee for his support, which the Colombia leader believes will pave the way for Colombia to join APEC.
“I also would like to highlight your and your Government’s desire to pave the way for Colombia’s entry into APEC,” Duque said. “It is very important because we can enter with strength and can take advantage of our location at the Pacific as well.”
APEC represents 60 percent of the world’s GDP and 39 percent of the global population, and in 2017 the APEC region grew by 4.1 percent, an increase from the 3.4 percent in 2016.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum currently consists of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.
Lee said his country supports Colombia’s potential APEC membership, and said he would work with Duque to remove restrictions on new APEC members.
Duque said he hopes South Korea joins the Pacific Alliance, a trade bloc formed in 2011 by the South American nations of Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru.
“I also would like to highlight the importance of Korea’s link to the Pacific Alliance,” he said, adding that Seoul “has expressed an interest and this is something that must be addressed, since Colombia also has a free trade agreement with South Korea.”
Lee, who was accompanied on his trip to Colombia by more than 30 government officials and 70 business representatives, also invited Duque to visit South Korea to consolidate their bilateral agreements.
The prime minister also praised the role played by Colombia in the Venezuelan crisis, both regionally and internationally.
“I know that you have a very important leadership role in accepting Venezuelan migrants who are fleeing their country, and I also know that you are fighting so that Venezuela can recover the universal values of humanity,” the prime minister said.
The general director of Migration Colombia, Christian Krueger, said on May 2, that a total of 1,260,594 Venezuelan residents were registered in Colombia in the first quarter of this year, an increase of 85,851 compared to the last official study.