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February 2018

February 6, 2018

Colombia Welcomes Secretary Tillerson

Washington, DC — As part of his first multi-country trip to Latin America and the Caribbean, which kicks last week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is visiting Colombia. He arrived in Bogotá today Tuesday, February 6, where he is going to meet with President Juan Manuel Santos. 

Chief among the issues to be discussed is the status of Colombian Peace Agreement implementation, which has been under way for just one year, and milestones achieved thus far. Also expected to top the agenda is Colombia’s accession to the OECD and U.S. support for this major step forward, which would strengthen the South American nation’s economic position in the global economy.

“As we continue building a stable and lasting peace, we are grateful for the long-standing bilateral partnership and bipartisan support from the United States. The United States supported Plan Colombia, which laid the foundation for peace, and today, Peace Colombia provides resources and the foundation for Colombia’s forward momentum,” said Ambassador of Colombia to the United States Camilo Reyes, who is joining President Santos and the Colombian delegation welcoming Secretary Tillerson.

“Now a nation at peace, Colombia is better positioned to work hand in hand with the United States and achieve even more together for the people of our two nations and the region,” said Reyes.

In addition to meeting with President Santos and participating in a joint press availability with him, Secretary Tillerson has meetings with his counterpart, Minister of Foreign Affairs María Ángela Holguín, and U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker. The Secretary’s visit comes after the Vice President’s visit in August and President Santos’s meeting with President Trump at the White House last May.

 

Washington, DC — As part of his first multi-country trip to Latin America and the Caribbean, which kicks last week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is visiting Colombia. He arrives in Bogotá today Tuesday, February 6, where he is going to meet with President Juan Manuel Santos. 

February 7, 2018

Readout of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Visit to Colombia

Washington, DC — On the sixth day of his first multicountry trip to Latin America and the Caribbean, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Colombia. He arrived in Bogotá yesterday afternoon, where he met with President Juan Manuel Santos, Minister of Foreign Affairs María Ángela Holguín and U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker.

Topping the agenda were Colombian Peace Agreement implementation, U.S. support for Colombia’s accession to the OECD, advancing the bilateral economic partnership and shared responsibility in the fight against drugs. Following their meeting, President Santos and Secretary Tillerson participated in a joint press availability. 
 
President Santos stated: 

 

“We just had a very productive meeting with the Secretary of State of the United States, Rex Tillerson. … Colombia - you have been able to see it firsthand - is making progress in the construction of peace. This is a complex process - a process that takes time - and, although we have enormous challenges ahead, the fruits are being seen.

“… Throughout this process we have had the firm and determined support of the United States, a bipartisan, effective and unwavering support. That is why we deeply appreciate the support of the administration of President Trump at this crucial stage in our history as a nation.

"In this meeting with Secretary Tillerson we reviewed the various topics of our rich binational agenda, and we also talked about the work we have been doing on issues of interest to both countries.

“… Commercial ties between our countries are becoming stronger. Since the entry into force of the free trade agreement, U.S. investment in Colombia has exceeded $2.3 trillion. More than 230 companies from the United States are investing today in our country. And we are happy to see that every day there are more Colombian products arriving in the U.S. market.

“As of November last year, Colombia exported $3.73 billion in non-mining-energy goods to the United States. … The private sector plays a key role in promoting trade and investment, and that is why we value the role of the U.S.-Colombia Business Council, which brings together 40 of the most important business leaders of the two countries.

“On the other hand, spaces such as the High Level Dialogue have generated important results in terms of cooperation on key issues such as energy, education, rural development, science and technology.

“Colombia is beginning to take advantage of its full potential. We have a long way to go, but we have made very important progress on crucial issues such as the fight against poverty, the development of infrastructure and the growth of our economy.

“We want to continue advancing along the path of development, and a very important element of that process is our entry into the OECD. We thank Secretary Tillerson for his support in completing our accession process.

“Colombia and the United States share the values of democracy and freedoms that our forefathers left us from their respective homelands, as well as the interest of consolidating an increasingly prosperous and increasingly secure region.

“We have a broad and diverse agenda, and we look forward to continuing to work with you and the administration of President Trump to further deepen our great relationship - a relationship that is more than friends and partners rather than allies and partners.”

 

 

Regarding the global fight against drugs, President Santos said the problem is an issue on which, we agree with you, Secretary Tillerson, our countries have a shared responsibility. There is no supply without demand, or demand without supply. The President noted that as part of the "frank and open" dialogue, he discussed the actions Colombia has undertaken and the results achieved to date through the aggressive, comprehensive counternarcotics strategy Colombia began implementing last year and in coordination with the United States.

Secretary Tillerson’s visit comes after the Vice President Pence’s visit in August and President Santos’s meeting with President Trump at the White House last May.

 

 

 

February 14, 2018
February 20, 2018

Annual Spring Meeting

Outlook on the Americas at the
Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America and the Caribbean (AACCLA) 

 
·       Good afternoon. On behalf of the Embassy and the Government of Colombia, I thank the AACCLA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the opportunity to participate in today’s important discussion.
 
·       Both organizations are vital to the continued growth of Colombia and our entire region.
 
·       Last year, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, we launched the U.S.-Colombia Business Council – an official platform between our two countries to advance economic growth and development.
               
·       The successful U.S.-Mexico Business Council was the model for our new business council, and we appreciate the Chamber’s leadership for bringing the idea to fruition.
 
·       Today, I am honored to sit alongside my colleagues to talk about the future of the Pacific Alliance, its role in the region and how it can be a catalyst for further economic integration.
 
·       The Pacific Alliance is an open and innovative platform for expanding economic integration across Latin America and increasing the global competiveness of our four countries and the region.
 
·       Our countries are recognized globally as the most stable and dynamic democracies in Latin America, with the best prospects for economic growth and attracting foreign direct investment, or FDI, in the near future.
 
·       In relative terms, the Alliance as a bloc is the 8th largest economy in the world, accounts for 35 percent of global GDP and receives 41 percent of FDI in Latin America.
 
·       Combined, the Alliance countries comprise an integrated market of 225 million consumers with a GDP of nearly $2.2 trillion.
 
·       This is not just good for the Alliance countries, but also for the entire region, which benefits from integrated supply chains.
 
·       The Alliance allows the incorporation of intermediate goods and inputs from any member country in the final good for export, with preferential treatment for any of the member countries. This is creating an expansive market that responds to modern production systems and facilitates regional and global supply chains.
 
·       Market access is a key component of the Alliance trade protocol.
 
·       Moving forward, there are many promising opportunities for the Alliance. These include:
 
·       Ventanilla Única de Comercio Exterior (Single Window of Foreign Trade): With the support of the Inter-American Development Bank, the IDB, the countries developed an interoperability Single Window of Foreign Trade platform, which enables the exchange of phytosanitary certificates virtually. Integrating this further will be key.
 
·       Customs Cooperation: Another important issue to advance is trade facilitation through increased customs cooperation. The countries decided to start working toward facilitating and increasing trade in the pharmaceutical and food supplements sectors, through the harmonization of technical and sanitary requirements and the elimination of those considered unnecessary.
 
·       In addition, the Entrepreneurial Capital Fund of the Alliance has been created jointly by the IDB and the IDB Multilateral Investment Fund to facilitate financing and investment in small and medium-sized enterprises and in Alliance projects that contribute to their growth and competitiveness.
 
·       Equally important is the opportunity to create the Angels Investors Network “AngeLAP” and the Business Accelerator of the Pacific Alliance, “AcelerAP.” Both will seek to connect entrepreneurs with support entities that help strengthen their projects and competitiveness.
 
·       As for technical barriers to trade, the Alliance is developing a trademark classification tool to develop and implement further protection of intellectual property.
 
·       With opportunities, come challenges, however.
 
·       There is an existential one: nations continue looking more inward than outward with respect to trade.
 
·       However, the Alliance is such a clear example of the benefits of economic integration that we have a compelling case to make for expanding free and fair global trade.
 
·       A “next step" of the body will be pursuing free trade agreements with nations in the Asia-Pacific region.
 
·       When Colombia assumed the pro tempore presidency of the Alliance during last year’s Summit in Cali, President Santos underscored the importance of developing a network of innovation agencies.
 
·       He also remarked that: “We are going to register the creation of a common fund to finance infrastructure, we are going to open the Alliance to associate members so that we can establish different relations with interested observers to affiliate in some way with the four countries that have the most dynamic economies in Latin America.”
 
·       President Santos also noted why we should work to improve the student and academic mobility platform and strengthen consumer protection.
 
·       It is clear that our countries, together, can reinforce the Alliance as a strategic platform for economic and commercial integration in our region and across the Pacific.
 
·       Thank you for your focus on the future of the Alliance and hosting this discussion.