Colombia on Thursday opened a new consulate in China’s unofficial financial capital Shanghai, which is expected to process the majority of the Asian country’s visa applications.

Newly-appointed Shanghai consul Ricardo Galindo was quoted by El Espectador as saying the inauguration of the consulate is the result of ”a great effort on the part of the current government to satisfy the needs of the Colombian community.”

Until now, the growing number of Colombian expatriates in Shanghai had to travel to the Chinese capital of Beijing, some 700 miles away, to officially register as residents. An estimated 800 to 1000 Colombian expatriates live in Shanghai, but only some of them have officially registered.

“Colombia has one of Shanghai’s largest Latin American colonies, perhaps only behind Mexico and Brazil,” said Galindo in El Espectador.

The new consulate will also issue Colombian visas to Chinese citizens seeking to live in the South American country. 4,000 Colombian visas were distributed by the Beijing consul in 2012 and the Shanghai branch is now expected to take on between 50-70% of current applications, due to the high number of business visas that are requested in the south and east of China.

The Shanghai consul drew attention to the importance of Colombia’s continued relationship with China, pointing out the in 2012, trade between the two countries amounted to approximately $670 million, a 22% increase on 2011. China is the second largest importer of Colombian goods and interest in investing in infrastructure in the Latin American country has grown since President Juan Manuel Santos visited the country in May last year.

In addition to the Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong consulates, there is a possibility of Colombia’s diplomats extending their presence to the southeastern city of Canton, where a reported 3,000 Colombians live. Galindo also mentioned that Colombia may propose to twin one of its cities with Shanghai to allow the two cities to support one another.

Source: Colombia Reports