The Government of Canada takes a whole-of-government approach to its bilateral relations with Colombia through its political, commercial, development, and peace and security programming. The relationship includes: expanding trade and investment; a frank dialogue on human rights; development cooperation; support for Colombia’s justice, security and peace-building efforts; growing mobility between our two countries (tourism, study, business, immigration) and people-to-people relationships; and, close cooperation on multilateral issues. Colombia is a constructive, valued partner for Canada in the region and internationally, with a shared commitment to the values of democracy, transparency, multilateralism, and economic cooperation and integration.
Canada established full diplomatic relations with Colombia in 1953. In Colombia, Canada is represented by the Embassy of Canada located in Bogotá. Canada also has an Honorary Consul in Cartagena. Colombia is represented in Canada by an Embassy in Ottawa. Colombia also has consulates in Montréal, Toronto (including trade office), Calgary and Vancouver.
As one of the OECD’s newest members (since April 2020) Colombia is an emerging market with great potential. Canada and Colombia enjoy a dynamic and increasingly diversified bilateral commercial relationship, facilitated by the 2011 bilateral free trade agreement. This includes significant Canadian investment across various sectors – e.g., infrastructure, energy, mining, oil & gas, financial services, engineering services, agri-food, and education – and over 100 Canadian companies with a presence in Colombia. The total stock of Canadian direct investment in Colombia reached $5.66 billion in 2020 making Colombia the fourth largest investment destination for Canada in South and Central America.
In 2020, two-way merchandise trade totalled $1.64 billion, making Colombia our fourth-largest bilateral trading partner in Latin America and the Caribbean (excluding Mexico). Colombia was also Canada’s third largest export market in South America (after Brazil and Chile) in 2020 with merchandise exports valued at $790.5 million. Top exports were cereals (wheat), vehicles, machinery, vegetables (pulses), paper, and fertilizers. Imports from Colombia reached $848.8 million in 2020 and included most notably mineral fuels and oils (coal and crude petroleum), coffee, spices, tea, live trees, plants (cut-flowers), fruits (bananas), and plastics. According to the latest figures available, bilateral services trade totalled $512 million in 2019, which included exports to Colombia valued at $273 million and imports that reached $239 million.
Export Development Canada (EDC), the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), and many provinces/territories work closely with the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) to help Canadian companies pursue opportunities in the local market. Sectors that the TCS has identified as priorities – i.e., where Canadian capabilities and interest match local opportunities and demand – are infrastructure, clean technology, agriculture, information communication technologies (ICT), defence and security, mining, oil & gas, and education.
In addition, Canada is well-known in Colombia for its expertise in extractives and is looked to as a model for responsible natural resources development, including promoting high expectations regarding anti-corruption, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) practices that respect international guidelines.
Canada is also actively working with key stakeholders in Colombia to promote gender equality, transparency and anticorruption practices, and best standards in terms of Human Rights related to business and security.
Colombia is a founding member of the Pacific Alliance, a regional initiative established in 2011 along with Chile, Mexico and Peru. The Pacific Alliance seeks to promote greater competitiveness and economic growth for member countries, with the objective of moving toward the free movement of goods, services, capital, and people among its members. With shared interests in advocating for open markets, free trade, and the rule of law, Canada has been a strong supporter of the Pacific Alliance since its inception.
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement
In force since August 15, 2011, the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCoFTA), as well as parallel Agreements on Labour Cooperation and the Environment, benefit a wide range of exporters and service providers. August 2021 marked the 10th Anniversary of the agreement.
Implementation of the CCoFTA has removed key bilateral trade barriers and improved market access for both Canadian and Colombian products. It has promoted greater certainty in the market through a more stable and open investment environment. The Agreement protects international investors through reciprocal commitments and assures access to international arbitration.
The Joint Commission for the CCoFTA has met 4 times since the Agreement came into force, and has issued seven Decisions, including a Note of Interpretation for the Investment Chapter, Rules of Origin short supply allowances, and a revision to Annex 301 (Specific of Origin). The fourth and most recent meeting of the CCoFTA Joint Commission took place in Bogota on May 14, 2019.
As part of the commitments made under the CCoFTA, Canada and Colombia signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to promote cooperation and strengthen cross-border law enforcement on competition in June 2017. The MOU between Canada’s Competition Bureau and Colombia’s Superintendence of Industry and Commerce (Superintendencia de Industria y Comercio) establishes a framework for collaboration, coordination and communication of information that will support the investigations and enforcement activities of both agencies.
Canada and Colombia also signed the Agreement Concerning Annual Reports on Human Rights and Free Trade on May 27, 2010. This unique agreement requires that Canada and Colombia each produce a report every year on the effect on human rights in both countries of measures taken under the CCoFTA. Canada tables its report pursuant to this Agreement annually in May.
In addition, Canada and Colombia have a Double Taxation Agreement and an Air Transport Agreement.
Public call for submissions regarding Canada's Annual Report on Human Rights and Free Trade between Canada and the Republic of Colombia
Interested parties are invited to provide written submissions regarding Canada's Annual Report on Human Rights and Free Trade between Canada and the Republic of Colombia.
Submissions will be accepted until March 16, 2022
Canada and Colombia share almost 50 years of collaborative engagement on international assistance cooperation. Colombia is a growing middle-income country with a vibrant civil society, democratic governance, and a robust private sector. Colombia also faces significant poverty, inequality and challenges to peace and stability that the country is working hard to overcome. Canada’s assistance helps Colombia respond to poverty, inequality and violence by protecting the human rights of communities in need, creating economic opportunities for vulnerable populations, improving security conditions, responding to humanitarian needs, supporting peacebuilding efforts, investing in inclusive education, and addressing the impact of one of the world’s largest migration crisis. Empowering women and girls, supporting implementation of the peace agreement, and driving development innovation, are front and centre in Canada’s international assistance efforts in Colombia.
Canada’s international assistance in Colombia averages $40 million per year via Global Affairs Canada’s Bilateral Development Program, the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs), International Humanitarian Assistance, Partnerships for Development Innovation, the Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP), as well as other government departments, such as Environment and Climate Change Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). There are currently over 70 international assistance projects in Colombia being delivered through various programs and channels. Canada is working with Colombia to achieve its development ambitions by leveraging new, innovative partnerships to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) together. To achieve this partnership, Canada adopts an ecosystem approach. We collaborate with local government institutions and with civil society to advance creative solutions. We also work closely with private sector partners to bring more resources and attention to the challenges faced by the most vulnerable via innovation, shared ownership and co-creation. We listen to the voice of beneficiaries.
Canada’s bilateral development program disburses approximately $18 million per year towards large, multi-year projects that reduce poverty and support long-term development in Colombia’s most isolated, conflict-affected regions. This programming also addresses emergent issues, such as the global COVID-19 pandemic, and supports global advocacy efforts such as the Together for Learning campaign. Programming prioritizes the following areas:
- Advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls
- Supporting access to quality education for at-risk populations
- Building sustainable and inclusive economic growth and employment
- Responding to the needs of Venezuelan migrants, refugees and host communities
- Delivering responsive humanitarian assistance
- Supporting Colombia’s efforts to unlock private sector capital for development
- Bolstering peace implementation in Colombia
Canada also provides development assistance to Colombia through Global Affairs Canada’s Inter-American Program, which addresses regional, multi-country or trans-boundary issues, such as health and communicable diseases, resource exploitation and trade facilitation. Global Affairs Canada’s Partnerships for Development Innovation programs delivers targeted initiatives in Colombia that are designed and implemented by Canadian civil society organizations in collaboration with local counterparts. Canada responds to the needs of disaster and crisis-affected populations in Colombia via the annual appeals of humanitarian organizations.
Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs) has been supporting stabilization and peace building initiatives in Colombia since 2005. Since 2016, PSOPs has provided $34.5 million in funding to support peacebuilding efforts, with a focus on supporting the implementation of the 2016 Peace Agreement with the FARC. Projects include Initiatives centre on: Accountability, including through Colombia’s transitional justice mechanism; civilian protection and security; local level reconciliation and peacebuilding; and building the resilience of vulnerable communities from conflict-affected areas, including Indigenous and Afro-Colombian women, girls and LGBTI populations. Colombia is a priority country under Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security and ensuring delivery on the agenda is forefront to PSOPs programming in Colombia.
The Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP) has approximately $39 million worth of multi-year operational projects that include Colombia as part of regional initiatives to combat transnational crime, out of which $4.4 million is committed to the country through Canadian Government departments, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canada Border Security Agency (CBSA) as well as multilateral organizations, such as the UN Office of Drugs and Crime and Organization of American States. Thematic areas of focus include strengthening border management, preventing and combatting drug-related crimes, preventing and combatting cybersecurity threats, preventing and responding to trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, enhancing security sector reform initiatives and reforming anti-corruption practices.
Colombia is a priority hemispheric partner for the Department of National Defence. Colombia became a member of the Department of National Defence’s (DND) Military Training and Cooperation Program (MTCP) in 2011. To date, approximately 593 Colombia officers have participated in MTCP activities. Under MTCP, the Colombian armed forces have access to training in areas that promote Canadian democratic principles.
Partnerships and organizations
To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and Colombia work closely in multilateral fora, such as:
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- International Criminal Court (ICC)
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
- Organization of American States (OAS)
- The Pacific Alliance
- United Nations (UN)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- World Trade Organization (WTO)
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