POLITICAL – Canada and Colombia have had unbroken bilateral relations since 1953 – Canadian involvement has intensified in recent years through high-level visits, o An evolving development assistance program o A growing source-country refugee program o Security sector cooperation o Cooperation in the area of landmines o Connectivity initiatives o Healthy trade relationship. – Since 1999, there have been unprecedented levels of senior-level contact between Canada and Colombia – Former President Pastrana made the first-ever state visit to Canada by a Colombian president in May 1999, and attended the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in April 2001. – The January 2000 visit by former Minister Lloyd Ax worthy to Colombia was the first by a Canadian foreign affairs minister in 18 years. Since 2000, there have also been visits by International Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew and former Secretary of State (Latin America and Africa) David Kilgour. In February 2002, following 11 months of public hearings in Ottawa, members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (SC FAIT) travelled to Colombia to gain greater insight into the human rights situation there. Canada supports a negotiated solution to the Colombian conflict, and participated in peace talks with the FARC during the Pastrana administration as one of the Group of 10 facilitator countries.
Concrete steps by the illegal armed groups to reduce the violence are essential for progress towards peace. Canada condemns terrorists acts and violations of international humanitarian law regardless of which actor commits such acts. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) allocates $8-10 million a year through all channels to Colombia. The objectives of Canadian development assistance in Colombia include: 1.
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increasing Colombian capacity to meet the basic human needs and protect the human rights of people affected by the armed conflict; 2. supporting equitable participation in establishing the foundations for peace; and 3. improving Colombian capacity to address some of the key factors that cause and intensify violence. CIDA has contributed a total of $1. 8 million to the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) in Bogota, Cali and Medellin since 1999. New projects supported in 2002 include a five-year, $5 million project to support the displaced in northeastern Colombia, and $3.
5 million for two, three-year projects that promote peacebuilding and conflict resolution with children and adolescents. DFAIT’s Human Security Program is also supporting the work of the UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Colombia ($200, 000 in 2001-2003), as well as conflict resolution training for Colombian youth through You Can! Peace builders International. CULTURAL Given Canada’s unique position as a bilingual country of the Americas, there is great interest among Colombians in Canadian culture. This interest has been fostered by a series of Canada Days carried out by the Embassy which feature Canadian foods, films and art exhibits, and provide information on immigration, educational opportunities in Canada, bilateral trade, ethical investment, and Canadian foreign policy. April 2003 marks 50 years of Canada-Colombia relations and a number of cultural events are being planned to celebrate the anniversary. The Embassy’s current aboriginal art and Inukshuk photographic exhibits have travelled extensively throughout Colombia, and the Embassy will be launching the anniversary with a new art exhibit under the theme of multi-cultural ism.
A second Cine Canada film festival is being planned to follow up on the success of last year’s inaugural festival. In May, the Banff Mountain Film Festival will be screened in Bogot’a, Me dell ” in and Cali. The anniversary year will close with the publication of a book on the history of Canada-Colombia relations. COMMERCIAL Colombia is Canada’s fourth largest trading partner in South America after Brazil, Venezuela and Chile. Canadian exports to Colombia in 2002 totalled $342. 2 million, a 6.
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5-per-cent decrease over the previous year. Imports from Colombia in 2002 were $391. 5 million, a 5. 7-per-cent decline over 2001.
Canada supplies approximately 3 per cent of Colombia’s imports. Canada has been a leading foreign investor in Colombia, primarily in the oil and telecommunications sectors, with direct investment totalling $869 million. The largest Canadian investment to date was the OC ENSA pipeline project, led by Enbridge International and valued at nearly US$1 billion. As a member of the Andean Community, Colombia signed the Canada-Andean Community Trade and Investment Cooperation Arrangement in May 1999. Canada has entered into preliminary discussions concerning an FTA with the Andean Community. This is a political signal of confidence and support for Colombia which will benefit economic development and provide alternative employment opportunities away from illicit drugs..