Canada - Colombia Relations

Diplomatic relations and official representation

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.

Bilateral relations          

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, facilitated by the 2011 bilateral free trade agreement; 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.

The strength of the Canada-Colombia relationship is underscored by the number of recent high-level meetings and visits. On April 22, 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau met with President Santos, while in New York City to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change, expressing Canada’s continued support for Colombia’s peacebuilding efforts, and for security and prosperity in a post-conflict era. On March 2, 2016, Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion met Colombia’s Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín on the margins of the United Nations’ 31st session of the Human Rights’ Council in Geneva, Switzerland. On March 7, 2016, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Bob Hamilton and Vice-Minister of Mines María Isabel Ulloa Cruz signed the Framework for Cooperation in Natural Resources, which will strengthen bilateral collaboration and create trade and investment opportunities in mining, oil and gas, clean energy technologies and earth sciences. In December 2014, the Governor General of Canada paid a state visit to Colombia. Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Colombia in May 2013 for the Pacific Alliance Leaders Summit, along with the former Minister of International Trade and the former Minister of State of Foreign Affairs. In August 2014, the former Minister of Trade and former Minister of State for Small Business, Tourism and Agriculture co-led a Canadian Trade Mission to Colombia. The week prior, the former Minister of National Revenue represented the Prime Minister at the inauguration of President Santos’ second term in office.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

The Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, as well as parallel agreements on labour cooperation and the environment, came into force on August 15, 2011.

The first Labour Cooperation Ministerial Council meeting was held in Bogotá in January 2012, resulting in a 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, while the third took place in Lima, Peru in October 2014. The Committee on the Environment met for the first time in March 2012, and then again in March 2015, to develop a cooperative plan of action. 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.

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.

Trade and Investment

Colombia is an established market for Canadian businesses. The Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement and parallel Agreements, as well as the Double Taxation Agreement, benefit a wide range of exporters and service providers, and promote a more stable, predictable climate for Canadian investment.

Canada-Colombia two-way merchandise trade in 2015 totaled $1.6 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 totaling $782.8 million in 2015. Canadian merchandise imports from Colombia totaled $828.4 million in 2014. Major Canadian merchandise exports consist of cereals (mainly wheat), motor vehicles, machinery, vegetables (mainly lentils), paper and paperboard, fertilizers and meat products. Canada’s top merchandise imports from Colombia include mineral fuels and oils (including from bituminous coal), coffee, tea and spices, live trees and plants (mainly cut flowers), fruits and nuts, plastics and articles thereof. 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 US$2.2 billion at the end of 2014.

Development Assistance and Programming

Canada and Colombia share over 40 years of collaborative engagement on development cooperation. 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. Canada’s bilateral development programming in Colombia 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, youth employment and entrepreneurship, and natural resource governance). Canada also provided assistance to landmines victims through its $2.9M contribution to Handicap International, and has supported mine risk education through its $17M contribution to UNICEF Colombia. Since 2005, Canada has provided over $305 million in total Official Development Assistance (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 and phytosanitary issues, labour and environment.                                                    

Through Global Affairs Canada’s Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force programming — with contributions of approximately $44.2 million since 2005 from the Global Peace and Security Fund — Canada has funded projects supporting victims' rights and justice reform with a special emphasis on: victims of gender-based violence; security efforts (including police reform, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration); and humanitarian demining and land restitution (returning land to those who were forced to flee from their homes during the conflict). Canada, a lead donor, has provided the Organization of American States (OAS) Mission to Support the Peace Process (MAPP) in Colombia $10.7 million since 2005, in support of its valuable contribution towards peace in Colombia. The OAS MAPP plays a crucial convenor and facilitator role at the local level, among communities, government officials, local organizations, demobilized individuals, and victims of the conflict, and promotes social reconciliation and public outreach on human rights, prevention of recruitment, humanitarian law, and peacebuilding topics as cross-cutting priorities.

Since its inception in December 2009, the Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program has provided over $2.7 million to strengthen Colombia’s capacity to combat transnational crime, 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 UNODC and CICTE. Thematic areas of focus include combating trafficking in persons and illicit drugs, and reforming security systems.

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 239 Colombia officers have participated in MTCP activities. Under MTCP, the Colombian armed forces have access to training in areas that promote Canadian democratic principles.

Canada’s Engagement on Human Rights in Colombia

In addition to $110 million in programs aimed at improving human rights conditions in Colombia since 2003,  Global Affairs Canada undertakes annual consultations with Colombian civil society organizations, human rights defenders, unions, journalists, women’s organizations, 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 political and human rights consultations with the government of Colombia. The last round of consultations took place in Colombia in August 2015. Canada concluded its presidency of the G24 Sub-Group on Human Rights in Colombia in 2014, 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, but now co-chairs the sub-group on human rights of the Donor’s group in Colombia. Since January 2016, Canada is also chairing the International Cooperation Gender Roundtable in Colombia.

Agreement Concerning Annual Reports on Human Rights and Free Trade between Canada and the Republic of Colombia

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, alongside 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.

July 2016

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