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France and Colombia

Presentation

  • French Ambassador to Colombia: Jean-Marc Laforêt (since October 2013)
  • Colombian Ambassador to France: Federico Renjifo Vélez (since November 2013)

Political relations

Relations between France and Colombia are currently being strengthened. High-level contacts take place regularly. A few months after his inauguration, President Juan Manual Santos visited Paris in January 2011. Re-elected in June 2014, Mr Santos again paid an official visit to France on 26 and 27 January 2015. During the meeting between the two Presidents, a Franco-Colombian Strategic Committee (CSFC) was launched. It consists of eminent French and Colombian personalities from different backgrounds (business, culture, academics, civil society), and aims to strengthen the bilateral relationship, especially in the economic field. Mr Santos was previously received in Paris by the French President François Hollande on 7 November 2014 for a working lunch on the peace process in Colombia. Bilateral meetings between members of government are held regularly. Further to the official visit of President Santos to Paris, the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls visited Bogota on 25 June 2015. During the visit, 17 bilateral agreements were signed (France-Colombia Year 2017, tax agreement, €275 million “climate loan" from the French Development Agency (AFD), university agreements – including the creation of an international observatory on ending violence, decentralized cooperation, working holiday agreement, etc.). The French Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, Ms Annick Girardin, visited Medellín in October 2015 (inaugurated the French Lycée, met with the French Community, etc.).

Economic relations

- http://www.tresor.economie.gouv.fr/Pays/colombie (in French)

Trade between France and Colombia has tripled between 2004 (€490 million) and 2013 (€1582 billion). France has posted a trade surplus since 2006 that is fluctuating according to deliveries of aeronautical supplies to Avianca by Airbus and the Toulouse-based aircraft manufacturer ATR. In 2014, the 33% fall in French imports was the chief cause for the decrease in the overall trade volume to €1.35 billion, against €1.59 billion in 2013), and it sharply raised our trade surplus to €619 million, against €525 million in 2013.

Our exports consist mainly of transport equipment (56%), pharmaceuticals (9.5%), chemicals and cosmetics (8.5%), and we import coal (43%), crude oil (12%) and agricultural products (21%). French export prospects remain dynamic, with the signing in April 2015 of a $10.6 billion contract for the purchase of 100 new Airbus A320neo (new engine option) aircraft by Avianca, the national Colombian airline.

Globally, in 2014, Colombia accounted for the 17th-largest French trade surplus and the third-biggest increase in French exports since 2005 (up 259%) after Indonesia and the Philippines, which are among the countries to which French exports reached at least €100 million in 2014.

In South America, Colombia accounted for the second-biggest destination of French exports in 2014 after Brazil (12% against 6.5% in 2005), the second-largest French trade surplus after Brazil (28.5% of the total surplus), and the biggest increase in French exports since 2010 (+67%). France is also the second-largest supplier to Colombia in the European Union, after Germany (with a 3.6% share).

Since the end of 2009, the French Development Agency (AFD)’s activities in Colombia have been conducted under a mandate designed for an emerging country, by supporting green and inclusive growth. The AFD’s Bogota Agency has developed an intervention strategy for the period 2014-2018 setting out three thematic objectives: (i) foster convergence and sustainable regional development, (ii) promote climate change mitigation and adaptation policies, and (iii) support social cohesion policies, including reduction of inequalities. The strategy also specifies two cross-cutting objectives, namely the contribution to economic diplomacy and French commitments to climate action. To date, about €1.2 billion has been committed in seven loans. These loans included initial financing of $300 million signed at the end of June 2015 during the French Prime Minister’s visit to Colombia. For the AFD and for France, this commitment has made it possible to post, during the year of COP21, significant climate funding for an emerging country with a proactive policy on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which is very vulnerable to climate change, is seeking to mainstream climate into all public policies and is France’s ally in international negotiations.
(http://www.afd.fr/home/pays/amerique-latine-et-caraibes/alc/colombie/projets-colombie - in French)

In terms of FDI, France is among the top five investors in Colombia with around 150 French subsidiaries active in the country. French is also the top foreign employer in Colombia with 100,000 direct jobs.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Colombia maintains old-standing and lively relations with France, particularly in the field of research and student mobility. France is the third-largest destination for Colombian students after the United States and Spain, with nearly 3000 students enrolled in higher education institutions in 2011-2012. Colombia is also the second most represented Latin American country in France, after Brazil. Many university agreements and the agreement on mutual recognition of diplomas signed in 2011 encourage student mobility and linkages in the area of scientific research. With more than 26,000 students in 2012 and a network of 12 establishments, the Alliance Française of Colombia is a world leader in teaching French. In the cultural field, Colombia regularly submits films in French film festivals dedicated to Latin America in Biarritz, Nantes and Amiens. This intense cultural relationship will be illustrated in 2017 by the launch of a cross-cultural season.

At institutional level, France provides significant technical cooperation in combating drug trafficking, particularly through the Interior Ministry and the Interministerial Drug Control Training Centre (CIFAD).

In the context of the peace process, France, which has been providing financial support since the end of 2012 for the organizations involved in resolving the conflict, including the Colombian National Centre for Historical Memory, the Colombian Education and Agriculture Ministries, the Peace Process Support Mission (Misión de Apoyo al Proceso de Paz – MAPP/OEA) and the UNHCR, actively encourages the implementation of the Victims and Land Restitution Law. New projects were launched in 2015 with our Colombian partners in the fields of land governance (land occupancy), agricultural training and transitional justice.

The Franco-German “Antonio Nariño Human Rights Prize", which was created in 2010, is awarded each year to activists and NGOs active in the defence of human rights.

The French Global Environment Facility (FFEM) is developing cooperation in tourism, crafts and carbon credit implementation.

Updated: 02/10/2015

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