LONDON (Reuters) - Colombia hopes to strengthen trade and investment ties with Britain following its exit from the European Union, President Juan Manuel Santos told lawmakers in London on Tuesday.
Santos, whose three-day trip is the first state visit to Britain by a Colombian president, said British investment would be able to grow once a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group comes into effect.
“We must build on existing foundations and identify new opportunities that will allow us to substantially increase our bilateral trade and investment,” Santos told lawmakers in parliament’s grand Robing Room.
According to the British government, bilateral trade was worth around 1 billion pounds ($1.22 billion) last year and the UK has been Colombia’s third largest foreign investor over the past decade.
Britain’s trade with the European Union was worth 30 billion pounds in August alone.
Santos, who is due to hold a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday, said Britain and Colombia would remove one barrier to trade by signing a double-taxation agreement.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Colombian leader was formally welcomed to London by Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip.
Santos is scrambling to save a hard-won peace deal with FARC, hammered out over almost four years of negotiations, which was narrowly rejected in a plebiscite last month. Many voters believed the plan was too lenient on the rebels.
Santos, who last month won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the 52-year old conflict that has killed more than 220,000 people, said he hoped a national dialogue to listen to the public’s views would ensure a new agreement can be reached.
($1 = 0.8173 pounds)
Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, editing by John Stonestreet