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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 regional and 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, Colombia is an emerging market with great potential. Canada and Colombia enjoy a dynamic and increasingly diversified bilateral commercial relationship, facilitated by the 2011 Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. This includes significant Canadian investment across various sectors – for example, infrastructure, energy, mining, oil and 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 $6.4 billion in 2022 making Colombia the fourth largest investment destination for Canada in South and Central America.
In 2022, two-way merchandise trade totalled $3.2 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 Peru, in 2022 with merchandise exports valued at $1.3 billion. Top exports included wheat cereals, fertilizers, vegetables, machinery and paper products. Imports from Colombia reached $1.9 billion in 2022 and included most notably energy products and coffee. Bilateral services trade totalled $412 million in 2021, which included exports to Colombia valued at $256 million and imports that reached $156 million.
The Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) works closely with Export Development Canada (EDC), the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), and many provinces/territories to help Canadian companies pursue opportunities in the local market. Sectors that the TCS has identified as priorities – that is, where Canadian capabilities and interest match local opportunities and demand – are infrastructure, clean technology, agriculture, information communication technologies (ICT), defence and security, mining and energy, 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, 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 joined the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement (GTAGA) on June 14, 2022, as a means to work closely with Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, and Peru to promote gender responsive trade policies and advance gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.
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 more than doubled bilateral trade by removing key bilateral trade barriers and improving 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 5 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 fifth and most recent meeting of the CCoFTA Joint Commission took place virtually on February 23, 2022.
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.
Canada and Colombia share over 70 years of collaborative engagement on international assistance cooperation. Colombia is an upper 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, implement the 2016 peace agreement, address the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts, and support Venezuelan migrants, refugees and host communities. Efforts focus on 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, empowering women and girls, and driving development innovation, are front and centre in Canada's international assistance efforts in Colombia.
Global Affairs Canada's international assistance in Colombia, which totalled $57.5 million in 2021-22, is being delivered through various programs. Other government departments collaborate also with Colombia, particularly Environment and Climate Change Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Canada is working with Colombia to achieve its development ambitions by leveraging new, innovative partnerships to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) together. 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 and collaborate with a variety of stakeholders and partners.
Global Affairs Canada's Geographic Program invested $47 million in 2021-22 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 evolving migration and border security issues, 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
To support Venezuelan refugees and migrants and host countries, Canada launched a new development programming across the region, including within Colombia, as the country receiving the largest number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Areas of support include education, protection, health, economic integration, and prevention of human trafficking.
Canada also provides development assistance to Colombia through Global Affairs Canada's Inter-American Program, which addresses regional, multi-country or trans-boundary issues. Initiatives in Colombia focus on health, electoral support, combating violence against women, extractive sector, justice reform, strengthening of parliaments, and supporting women in leadership and decision-making roles.
Global Affairs Canada's Global Issues and Development Branch programs provide support to multilateral organizations, including regional banks, to build resilience to climate change in Colombia. Important funding also responds to the needs of conflict-affected populations in Colombia, including Venezuelan migrants, via the annual appeals of humanitarian organizations and bilateral programming. 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. Programming focuses mainly on inclusive economic growth, child and women rights, innovation and transparency.
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 $40 million in funding to support peacebuilding efforts, with a focus on supporting the implementation of the 2016 Peace Agreement with the FARC. Projects are centred 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 delivering on this agenda is at the forefront of PSOPs programming in Colombia.
The Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP) is supporting multi-year projects worth approximately $38 million that include Colombia, as part of regional initiatives to combat transnational crime. $4.4 million is committed to Colombia 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)
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