Principles and outlines of Colombian foreign policy

“To progress towards democratic prosperity a greater diversification of Colombian international relations shall be necessary both, in the multilateral environment and in the search of new partners and strategic alliances within international scope”. Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, August 2010.

Democratic Prosperity for all is grounded on three pillars: more employment, less poverty and more security. This is how the National Government is coping with the three most serious challenges of the country. Consistent with these three axes, foreign policy shall be focused on the consolidation and reinforcement of institutions and on policies that, in turn, must be attuned to the pace of the changes outlined in the international system. To this end, the Government has made special emphasis on achieving growth and competitiveness, equal opportunities and peace consolidation, leading to a greater regional integration and diversification of the relations and the agenda.

Likewise, topics on which Colombia has developed capabilities and potential will be stressed. The State shall continue positioning the achievements obtained as an international benchmark in the struggle against the world drugs problem, terrorism, institutional strengthening and commitment with defense and promotion of human rights.

Bilateral relations with countries in which no emphasis has been made up to the moment shall be fostered, seeking innovative mechanisms that allow improving political approach and leading to more trade, investment, and technology exchange opportunities. Furthermore, relations with strategic and traditional partners of the country will continue to be strengthened.

Colombia shall continue to positively participate in the international scenario: the United Nations Security Council will be used to position Colombia’s contributions in international peace and security objectives. Colombian Foreign Policy Guidelines shall be projected in regional and sub-regional fora. Interests of Latin America and the Caribbean shall be taken into account in this task. In addition, in its capacity as member of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and of the G-77 and China, Colombia shall promote the adoption of positions that take into account the principles and interest of such groups.

After years of being a country that receives international aid, Colombia is now being consolidated as a country that offers cooperation. Its experience will be useful in topics where it has developed a great technical and operative capacity.

To further these outlines, and thinking on the projection of foreign policy in the medium and long term, work will be conducted in institutional strengthening. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as articulating axis of foreign policy shall increase engagement of specialized officers with technical and diplomatic training to assume opportunities and challenges offered by the international system. The Chancellery shall expand its representation in strategic countries and entities that ensure Colombia’s participation in international impact decision-making.

To enhance integration with Latin America and the Caribbean in order to provide more trade, investment, and technological exchange opportunities:

  •  Economic, social, commercial, and political relations with Latin America and the Caribbean will be strengthened.
  •  Easing of relations with Venezuela and Ecuador was achieved based on trust, dialogue and clear parameters where security and development of the country shall continue being a priority.
  • The multiple commissions that manage topics dealing with the borders, trade and security, among other, shall continue to be strengthened.
  • With greater presence of the State, social and economic development of border regions shall be promoted. This will allow fostering integration with neighboring countries.
  • The development plan in bordering areas will address basic needs of the population with social and economic projects from a participative, global, differentiated and sustainable perspective.
  • The expansion of Colombia’s participation in the Union of South American Nations –UNASUR- will be sought, as well as with the Andean Community, the Mesoamerica Project, the Pacific ARCH, and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
  • Mexico, Peru and Chile, partners of the Latin-Arch, will be allies to strengthen efficiency and to open markets through the Deep Integration Area.
  • Continuity will be given to Colombia’s South-South Cooperation Strategy with the countries of the Caribbean Basin and Mesoamerica.
  •  Leadership will be projected in international cooperation and aid for Haiti’s political, economic and social recovery.

To make Colombia’s relations with Asia-Pacific Countries more dynamic, through a reinforced diplomatic presence, opening new markets, and attracting investment.

  • Insertion in economic, commercial and political flows of Asia and the Pacific will be strengthened.
  • China, India, Turkey and Russia (Euroasia) are traditional allies and counties with which there is a great potential to improve economic, commercial and investment relations for the benefit of the democratic prosperity pillars.
  •  Bilateral and multilateral political dialogue will be strengthened with countries of the region, increasing high level reciprocal visits in all areas, making political consultation mechanisms and joint cooperation commissions more dynamic, participating in strategic international events.
  • Diplomatic representation will be expanded in countries and agencies to strengthen Colombia’s participation in decisions deemed relevant for its development. Before June, Embassies will be opened in Turkey, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Consolidation of economic-commercial relations will be sought, attracting more and new investment flows, identifying sectors where there are economy complementarities, and commercial offices will be opened in Asian countries to comply with such objectives, and to conduct the necessary actions for the benefit of our country.
  • Participation in APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum) will be projected and in ASEAN (Asian Southeast Association of Nations) with the Pacific Arch.
  • A commercial negotiation and investment agenda will be promoted with the community of the Gulf, Japan, Russia and Turkey. Likewise, work will be conducted to conclude negotiations and attain subsequent ratification processes of the free trade agreements with Panama and the Republic of Korea.

To position topics such a science and technology, innovation, education in quality issues, labor and professional training, agricultural technology and know-how, energy, climatic change, biodiversity and cooperation in security, and in international management for prosperity.

  •  Relations with the United States, Europe and Canada are essential for our country since they are our main economic partners. The Free Trade Agreement with Canada is under constitutional revision by the Constitutional Court.
  •  Political dialogue and economic and investment relations with the United States, Canada and Europe will be deepened. The bilateral agenda will continue to be strengthened and relations dealing with topics that benefit growth and development will be expanded.
  • Progress in science and technology will be fostered, together with the management of natural and environmental resources and quality of education, among other.
  • The strategy to negotiate commercial agreements, protection of investments and double taxation will be maintained.
  • The firm and inflexible commitment to the defense and promotion of human rights stems as a democratic, ethical, and human conviction inherent to the Colombian State, and not as an external imposition.
  • The State wishes to assume a clear responsibility with the planet and the future, supporting the initiative for the reduction of emissions due to deforestation and degradation, in order to decrease the loss of tropical forests and associated emissions.
  • As a country rich in biodiversity, knowledge and technology will be developed to take advantage of the country’s potential in biotechnology matters.
  • Programs to increase knowledge in biodiversity and its sustainable use will be designed and developed.
  • It is sought to promote regional integration and infrastructure development aiming at economical and environmental sustainability, and seeking complementarities of energy resources, taking as strategic axes conventional energy (renewable and non-renewable), non-conventional energy and energetic efficiency.
  • Institutional efficiency will be strengthened in areas such as social development, productive development and competitiveness, the environment, institutional strengthening, governance, reparation, cooperation, citizen security, education and science, technology and innovation. This way, contributions are made to the world with talent and audacity, and benefits are sought for Colombian population in areas such as generation of employment and education.
  • The Government shall contribute with the national expertise in the struggle against terrorism and the world drug problem; the combat against illicit traffic of small and light arms; the eradication of anti-personal mines; the response to natural disasters; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration to society.

To identify political, economic, and investment opportunities for Colombia in groups such as CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa) and by making part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

  • Efforts will be focused on reinforcing relations with the so called CIVETS and BRIC’s.
  • Colombia has been included in the group of emerging economies called CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa). Steps have been taken to establish queries and strengthen relations with other members of the group.
  • Economic, political and diplomatic bonds with Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC’s) will be strengthened and consolidated. These are counties where public and private alliances are fundamental; more opportunities will be created to strengthen entrepreneurial and investment encounters, aiming at long term benefits.
  • To form part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is a priority. Colombia is willing to adopt the necessary measures to be able to adjust its public policies and legislation to the OECD parameters.
  • Visits from OECD experts and missions will be received.

South-South Cooperation

  •  International cooperation will continue to be consolidated as a foreign policy instrument that helps strengthen strategic axes in order to achieve democratic prosperity and to build a new Colombia.
  • Triangular and regional cooperation will be resorted to, in order to increase supply on the part of Colombia.
  • Colombia is designing a long term foreign policy strategy to share experiences in imperative topics for African development.
  • The greater knowledge of, and approach to Africa will allow Colombia to develop future South-South cooperation strategies.