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.
Between April 2013 and March 2014, Canada and Colombia are celebrating 60 years of the establishment of full bilateral diplomatic relations. Canada enjoys a multifaceted relationship with Colombia, which includes: closer economic ties as a result of a bilateral free trade agreement; a frank dialogue on human rights; development cooperation; support for Colombia’s justice, security and peace-building efforts; and, close cooperation on multilateral issues.
The strength of the Canada-Colombia relationship is underscored by the number of recent high-level visits. The Prime Minister visited Colombia in May 2013 with Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and former Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Diane Ablonczy for the Pacific Alliance Leaders Summit, in April 2012 for the Summit of the Americas, and in August 2011 for the entry into force of the Canada-Colombia FTA. Most recently, the Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird visited Colombia as part of a Latin American tour in July-August 2013.
Colombia is one of Canada’s closest partners in the region both politically and economically. Stable political institutions, progressive laws, a strong pro-market and pro-integration orientation make Colombia a natural partner for Canada. This is reflected in Canada’s Strategy for Engagement in the Americas, where Colombia is identified as a priority country. Challenges persist related to human rights and the armed conflict and Canada is supporting Colombia in its efforts to address these issues.
The first Labour Cooperation Ministerial Council meeting was held in Bogotá in January 2012, resulting in the approval of the Labour Cooperation Action Plan and its socialization with representatives from the workers and employers organizations and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The second Ministerial Council meeting was held in Medellín in November 2013, during the Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labour. Likewise, the Committee on the Environment met in 2012. Cooperation programs are in place through the Labour Program of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), Environment Canada and the Canada-Americas Trade-Related Technical Assistance initiative.
In May 2010, Canada and Colombia also signed the Agreement concerning Annual Reports on Human Rights and Free Trade between Canada and the Republic of Colombia.
These agreements join a range of instruments—including advocacy and bilateral and development cooperation—through which Canada supports Colombia’s ongoing efforts towards greater peace, security, prosperity and respect for human rights.
Canada and Colombia signed the Agreement concerning Annual Reports on Human Rights and Free Trade between Canada and the Republic of Colombia 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 Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Colombia (Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, “CCOFTA”). The agreement entered into force on August 15, 2011, with the entry into force of the CCOFTA, as well as two related agreements, the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Colombia (“Labour Cooperation Agreement”) and the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Colombia (“Environment Agreement”). Canada tabled its first report pursuant to the Agreement concerning Annual Reports on Human Rights and Free Trade between Canada and the Republic of Colombia on May 15, 2012. The second report was tabled on June 14, 2013 in both the House of Commons and the Senate. Canada must table its third annual report by May 15, 2014.
Canada and Colombia share over 40 years of collaborative engagement on development cooperation. Since 2002, Canada’s bilateral development programming objective is to improve human rights and increase social and economic opportunities for the most vulnerable, including children and youth. The current strategy, which comes to an end in 2014, has two sectors of focus: Children and Youth (targeting education and child protection and rights) and Sustainable Economic Growth (supporting the participation of the most vulnerable to access Colombia’s economic development, with emphasis on rural development and natural resource governance), with human tights and humanitarian assistance as cross-cutting themes. The program is currently developing a new country development strategy for 2014-2018. Since 2005-6, Canada has provided over $127 million in ODA to Colombia. Colombia has participated actively in the Canada-Americas Trade-Related Technical assistance initiative, designed to increase skills and knowledge in the areas of trade promotion, technical barriers to trade, trade facilitation, sanitary & phytosanitary issues, labour and environment.
Through DFATD security sector programming — with contributions of over $34 million since 2006 — Canada has funded projects supporting victims' rights and justice reform; security efforts (including disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, as well as mine clearance), and humanitarian demining and land restitution (returning land to those who were forced to flee from their homes during the conflict). In November 2013, the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular), announced that Canada would provide an additional $1 million in support to the OAS MAPP. Canada is a lead donor to the MAPP in Colombia and the additional funding brings Canadian support to the MAPP to a total of $8.7 million. Canada is also providing assistance to landmines victims through its $2.9M contribution to Handicap International, and is supporting mine risk education through its $17M contribution to UNICEF Colombia.
Each year, Canada contributes approximately $6 million to Colombia through its International Humanitarian Assistance program, in response to the annual appeals of humanitarian organizations addressing conflict-related needs, as well as to the emergency appeals of organizations responding to natural disasters, including flooding. Canada’s international humanitarian partners include UNHCR, ICRC and Canadian NGOs (Médecins du Monde and Action Contre la Faim) to provide assistance to those affected by the conflict within Colombia. Canada is an important partner in addressing the protection needs of internally displaced persons, and Colombian refugees in neighbouring countries. Canada works closely with the UNHCR to offer resettlement to those Colombian refugees and other persons of concern who are particularly vulnerable. Over the past 10 years, CIC has resettled over 14,000 refugees from Colombia. Canada has traditionally been one of the largest donors for mine action in Colombia.
Through its Canada Fund for Local Initiatives – totalling over $1.3 million in the past six years – Canada has supported modest development assistance initiatives in Colombia, most aimed at promoting human rights, particularly those of indigenous communities, governance and democracy.
In addition to $110 million (2003-2014) in programs aimed at improving human rights conditions in Colombia, DFATD undertakes consultations at least two times a year with Colombian civil society organizations, human rights defenders, unions, journalists, women’s organization, international humanitarian agencies, UN agencies and government institutions, amongst others, to gain insight into the situation of human rights in Colombia. Canada has noted its concerns in relation to the situation of particularly vulnerable populations, including women, children, Afro-Colombians, indigenous peoples, human rights defenders, land restitution claimants and unionists, as well as in specific cases on imminent threats against members of civil society organizations. Canada has also acknowledged the improvements in the field of human rights and security in Colombia as well as efforts by the Government of Colombia to implement a number of policies that protect and promote human rights and rights of victims.
Canada also holds high-level bilateral consultations on human rights with the government of Colombia. The last round of consultations took place in Colombia on February 28, 2013. Canada is also an active member of the G24, a group of 24 countries and international institutions that have an ongoing and constructive dialogue with the Colombian government and civil society on issues of development, peace, and human rights. Canada has chaired the G24 twice and is currently presiding over the sub-group on human rights.
Colombia has also benefitted from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada’s Counter-Terrorism and Anti-Crime Capacity Building Programs.
The RCMP and the Colombian National Police also work closely in conducting investigations targeting drug trafficking organizations with the objective of ensuring safe communities in Canada and in Colombia. The RCMP has also provided technical assistance and capacity building on issues such as anti-explosives, child exploitation and JETWAY (profiling at airports).
Colombia is a priority hemispheric partner for the Department of National Defence. Canada has had a Defence Attaché in Bogotá since 2001; Colombia recently reinstated its military attaché position in Canada. Colombia became a member of the Department of National Defence’s (DND) Military Training Cooperation Program (MTCP) in 2011. As such, the Colombian armed forces will have access to training that will expose them to Canadian values, including the need to incorporate/promote the respect in human rights in basic military training and in guidelines for operations. Canada and Colombia also hold Defence Policy Talks.
Colombia is an established market for Canadian businesses, and the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement and parallel Agreements, benefit a wide range of exporters and service providers, as well as promote a more stable and predictable climate for Canadian investment.
Canada-Colombia two-way merchandise trade in 2013 totalled $1.4 billion, making Colombia our fifth-largest bilateral trading partner in Latin America and the Caribbean (excluding Mexico). Colombia was Canada’s fourth largest merchandise export destination in this region with Canadian merchandise exports totalling $716.8 million in 2013. Canadian merchandise imports from Colombia totalled $691.3 million in 2013. Major Canadian merchandise exports consist of cereals (mainly wheat), machinery, paper and paperboard, vegetables, fertilizers and vehicles and parts. Canada’s top merchandise imports from Colombia include mineral fuels and oils (including coal), coffee, tea and spices, live trees and plants (mainly flowers), fruits and nuts, and sugar.
Colombia ranks as the fifth-largest destination for Canadian direct investment in South and Central America. The total stock of Canadian direct investment in Colombia reached nearly $1.8 billion at the end of 2012.
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