Kristen Rupert, Executive Director of the AIM International Business Council, will be among eight Massachusetts business leaders and government officials to accompany Governor Deval Patrick on a six-day trade mission to Colombia beginning Saturday.
The Massachusetts – Colombia Innovation Partnership Mission will explore potential business collaborations between Colombia and the commonwealth, especially in the innovation, life sciences and clean energy areas. The trip comes less than a year after the United States signed a free trade agreement with Colombia, opening up an estimated $1.1 billion market for U.S. exports.
It also comes 14 months after Rupert and several AIM-member companies joined the governor on a similar mission to Brazil and Chile.
"Many AIM member companies want to increase and diversify their markets,” Rupert said.
“The best way to do that is meeting face-to-face with potential partners and government and business leaders. From our participation in the Brazil trade mission in 2011, we learned that doors open when traveling with Governor Patrick. We look forward to identifying business opportunities for Massachusetts companies in Colombia."
The February 15-20 mission will include stops in Bogota and Cartagena. The Governor and delegation members will meet with top Colombian government and business leaders, including Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon, Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzon, Minister of Foreign Affairs María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, and President of the Port Society of Cartagena Captain Alfonson Salas Trujillo.
Governor Patrick will also meet with the two national entities tasked with promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and research in Colombia: Colciencias and InnPulsa Colombia, and Colombia’s national cabinet-level department charged with developing and implementing policies to strengthen the innovation economy.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for Massachusetts to compete for jobs on the global playing field,” said Patrick. “We cannot afford to sit idle as our competitors develop the partnerships and secure the investments that will create jobs in the innovation industries where we already have an advantage - life sciences, clean energy, and the digital technologies.”
Massachusetts last year exported approximately $81.5 million to Colombia, making it the commonwealth’s fifth largest trade partner in Latin America and 33rd overall. Bay State exports to Colombia increased by 12.5 percent over the same period in 2011.
The United States and Colombia signed a Free Trade Agreement in May 2012, eliminating tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports, expanding trade and promoting economic partnerships for the two countries. The International Trade Commission (ITC) has estimated that the tariff reductions in the Agreement will expand exports of U.S. goods by more than $1.1 billion, supporting thousands of additional American jobs.
Rupert invites AIM members with specific questions about doing business in Colombia to contact her via email at email@example.com, before the mission leaves on Saturday. She also plans to post information during her stay in South America on the AIM Business Insider blog.