Colombia is seeking China Development Bank's funding for infrastructure projects in the South American nation, and it also wants to reduce its huge trade deficits with China. Speaking while on a trade mission to Hong Kong and the mainland, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, Luis Guillermo Plata, said a vice-minister of trade had visited China two months ago to discuss loans from Development Bank to its Colombian counterpart Bancoldex. Plata declined to disclose the amount of loans being sought, but said the interest rates offered are 'a bit' higher than those available in the market. 'We have a huge deficit with China in trade, so I think it's important that we use other mechanisms to try to compensate it via investments and loans,' Plata said. Colombia's imports from China amounted to four times its exports to China. Colombia plans to spend US$11.8 billion on mining and energy infrastructure and US$3.6 billion on transport infrastructure. China has extended multibillion-dollar loans to Russia, Turkmenistan, Brazil and Venezuela to help those nations develop resources and infrastructure, in exchange for long-term energy supplies. Plata said Colombia would discuss a similar deal with Development Bank later this week, but said since such loans normally included a clause requiring the borrower to use mainland equipment, engineering and consulting services, it might not work for Colombia where projects normally needed to go through open bidding. Advancements in domestic security after years of internal armed conflict have seen economic growth accelerate between 2002 and 2007 in South America's fourth-largest nation, reaching 8.2 per cent, one of the highest in Latin America. With a population of 44.6 million, Colombia is a net exporter of oil, natural gas, electricity and coal. It pumps 600,000 barrels of oil per day and is self-sufficient until 2017, Plata said. While Capital Airport Holding was awarded the right to manage six Colombian airports, mainland bidders for oil exploration and infrastructure projects have generally been unsuccessful because they lack local knowledge.