France and Colombia

Presentation

  • French Ambassador to Colombia: Mr Gautier Mignot (since June 2017)
  • Colombian Ambassador to France: Mr Federico Renjifo Vélez (since November 2013)

Political relations

Relations between France and Colombia have strengthened considerably. A few months after being sworn in, 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 Presidents Hollande and Santos, France-Colombia Year 2017 was announced and a Franco-Colombian Strategic Committee (CSFC) was launched. It consists of eminent French and Colombian personalities from various backgrounds (business, culture, academia, civil society), and aims to strengthen the bilateral relationship. Further to the official visit of President Santos to Paris, the French Prime Minister, Mr 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 Agence Française de Développement (French Development Agency, AFD); academic agreements, such as on 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 (inauguration of the French school (Lycée, etc.). Her successor, Mr André Vallini, visited Cartagena to represent France during the official signing ceremony of the peace agreement on 26 September 2016. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, visited Bogota and Medellín in December 2016 for the launch of France-Colombia Year 2017 President François Hollande made an official visit to Colombia from 22-24 January 2017, in the first French presidential visit to the country since François Mitterrand in 1989. President Santos was then received by President Macron during his official visit to France from 21-23 June 2017 for the launch of the Colombian Cultural Season in France for the second half of 2017.

Development assistance

Colombia was the fifth-largest net recipient of French ODA in 2016 and the leading recipient in the Americas.

Since the end of 2009, Agence Française de Développement (AFD, French Development Agency) activities in Colombia have been conducted under a remit for emerging countries, supporting “green and inclusive growth”. The AFD’s Bogota office has developed an intervention strategy for the period 2014-2018 setting out three objectives: (i) fostering convergence and sustainable regional development, (ii) promoting climate change mitigation and adaptation policies, and (iii) supporting social cohesion policies, including reduction of inequalities. The strategy also specifies two cross-cutting goals: contributing to economic diplomacy and French climate commitments. The AFD loans included initial financing of $300 million, signed at the end of June 2015 during the French Prime Minister’s visit to Colombia. The cumulative total of AFD loans for Colombia since 2009 stands at $2 billion of commitments, of which $811 million for operations contributing directly to the post-conflict period. These loans primarily concern rural development and land governance and registry.

France’s assistance through its contribution to the EU Trust Fund for Colombia (inaugurated in December 2016) of €95 billion is supplemented by a direct bilateral contribution of €3 million.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France-Colombia Year 2017 was a key event in the bilateral partnership, especially as it was the first such event organized with a Spanish-speaking country and the second with a Latin American country, after Brazil.

Colombia has long-standing, vibrant relations with France, particularly as regards research and student mobility. France is the third-largest destination for Colombian students after the United States and Spain, with nearly 4,000 students enrolled in higher education institutions in 2015-2016. Colombia has the second-largest contingent of Latin American students in France, behind Brazil. Many inter-university agreements, and the agreement on mutual recognition of diplomas and study periods signed in 2011, encourage student mobility and ties in the area of scientific research. With more than 24,000 students in 2015 and a network of 12 branches, the Alliance Française branch in Colombia is a world leader in teaching French. In the cultural field, Colombia films are often screened in French film festivals dedicated to Latin America, held in Biarritz, Nantes and Amiens.

At institutional level, France provides significant technical cooperation in combating drug trafficking, particularly through the Ministry of the Interior 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 have been launched since 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 ecotourism, crafts and carbon credit implementation.

Updated: January 2018