We stressed the importance of increasing trade and investment flows through cooperation in market modernization, the exchange of regulatory and technical know-how, and encouraging companies to look for ways to improve and diversify the goods and services available to our employees. The bilateral trade agreement between the United Kingdom and Colombia was adopted at the Senate session and must now be approved by the House of Commons. We welcomed the progress we have made so far, including the signing of the free trade agreement between the UNITED Kingdom and the Andes, which will allow British and Colombian businesses to trade and develop in liberalised and fair markets. We have agreed to ensure that the benefits of this agreement help create opportunities for producers, consumers and businesses large and small. This trade continuity agreement was concluded with a view to the UK`s exit from the EU. The agreement will allow businesses to act as freely as they do today, without additional barriers or tariffs. The agreement signed today with Colombia, Peru and Ecuador will provide additional assurances to British companies that trade with the region. Businesses will be able to continue to trade as they do today, after we have left the EU, as consumers and investors continue to enjoy the benefits. We have asked our experts to continue to cooperate in order to rapidly increase bilateral trade and bilateral investment in the sectors that are the key to a sustainable and prosperous future: the agreement on trade continuation between the United Kingdom and the Andean countries repeats as much as possible the existing trade agreements. Agri-food industry: improving sustainability, access, productivity and traceability to increase the choice of traders and consumers and to reward good fiduciary and quality production in this sector extremely important to the Colombian economy. The largest export of non-mining/energy to the UK is agriculture, including bananas, flowers, coffee and fruits such as avocados. This replacement agreement provides for the same tariff preferences that Colombia currently enjoys with the European Union.
Once in force, the agreement will help protect a $2.1 billion trade flow, create continuity for both businesses and consumers, and preserve UK jobs. In 2017, 1,500 British companies exported goods to Colombia, 600 were in Ecuador and 1,300 were in Peru. Between 2008 and 2018, UK exports of goods and services to the region increased by 58% and imports from the region by 24%. The new trade agreement was designed to maintain the status quo between the two countries after the UK`s withdrawal from the European Union at the end of the year. The terms of the agreement are therefore intended to preserve the same access to trade and the same conditions that were applied in the existing agreement between Colombia and the European Union. A bilateral trade agreement between Colombia and the United Kingdom was adopted in the plenary session of Colombia and is now subject to approval by the lower house of the Andean state.
The legislation should maintain uninterrupted access between Colombia and the United Kingdom as part of the Agreement between Colombia and the European Union. We look forward to continuing to strengthen our ambitious trade and investment relations with andean countries as we continue to work closely together in the future. The agreement means that after Brexit, trade agreements were signed with ten countries and regions.
At a time of unprecedented challenges, we have agreed to work together to ensure that free and fair trade between our two sovereign nations ensures a green and resilient recovery and future prosperity and opportunities that all our citizens deserve.