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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Canada and Columbia August 2011

August 10, 2011
Bogotá, Colombia

Prime Minister Stephen Harper along with President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement will come into force on August 15, 2011. The Prime Minister also announced increased assistance to strengthen human rights in Colombia. We are improving free trade and humand rights

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

The Government is committed to an ambitious free trade and investment agenda that will create new opportunities for Canadian businesses and workers.

Colombia is an established market for Canadian businesses, and the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will benefit a wide range of exporters and service providers, as well as promote a more stable and predictable climate for Canadian investment.

Canada ratified the FTA, and parallel agreements on labour cooperation and the environment on June 29, 2010. Once implemented, this FTA will benefit Canada’s producers and exporters, reduce or eliminate tariffs on nearly all current Canadian exports, and provide a more predictable, transparent and rules-based trading environment for Canadian investors.

The FTA includes a separate agreement that will call for Canada and Colombia to produce annual reports on the impacts of free trade on human rights in both countries. This agreement will also enter into force on August 15, 2011, and join a range of initiatives – including advocacy and bilateral and development cooperation – through which Canada supports Colombia’s ongoing efforts towards greater peace, security, prosperity and respect for human rights.

Colombia is a dynamic emerging market with 45.5 million people and an economy with high growth potential. An increasing number of Canadian investors and exporters are entering the Colombian market. In 2010, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Colombia totalled more than $1.4 billion, with hundreds of Canadian companies doing business with Colombia. Colombia is also a strategic destination for Canadian direct investment, particularly in mining, oil exploration, printing and education. The total stock of Canadian direct investment in Colombia reached $824 million in 2010.

Over 70 Canadian companies have foreign direct investment in Colombia, concentrated in the oil and gas, mining, banking, wholesale distribution, education, footwear, paper and food processing sectors.

On June 29, 2010, legislation to implement Canada’s Free Trade Agreement with Colombia received Royal Assent. The agreement will reduce or eliminate tariffs, and provide a more predictable, transparent and rules-based trading environment for investors.

Canada signed a double taxation agreement with Colombia on November 21, 2008. Implementing legislation for this agreement received Royal Assent on December 15, 2010. Canada sent its notice of ratification to Colombia on December 20, 2010. The agreement, however, will not enter into force until Colombia sends its notice of ratification.

Improving Human Rights in Colombia

Prime Minister Harper also announced three projects that will support the Government of Colombia in its efforts to improve human rights in the country. These commitments, being delivered through the Canadian International Development Agency, along with multilateral partners, will help reduce inequality and poverty in the most vulnerable populations, with a special focus on children and youth.

Achieving the Rights of Children and Adolescents ($17,000,000)

In partnership with: UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) 2009-2014

This project:

Focuses on the most disadvantaged areas of the country and on vulnerable population groups (Afro-Colombians, indigenous peoples, internally displaced people, people affected by violence, and individuals living in rural or poor areas).

Prioritizes 11 departments in which key social development and child rights indicators are significantly below national averages and where violence has had a significant impact on children and their families.

Will support the implementation of a policy to guarantee early childhood education for 400,000 children under the age of five; will contribute to improving the quality of education for school children; and, will promote the active participation of adolescents and children in the development of education programs and government plans that promote and protect their rights.

At the national level, the project will support the government’s efforts in the implementation of the Colombian Child and Adolescent Code.

Sustainable Development for Youth in Rural Nariño ($10,000,000)

In partnership with: UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) 2010-2015

The project:

Supports vulnerable and at-risk youth in nine municipalities of the southern Department – or administrative divisions – of Nariño to help them generate, and benefit from, legal and sustainable economic initiatives to improve their quality of life.

Aims to increase the sustainable economic options for those youth and provides training and technical assistance to develop income-generating projects, to access markets, as well as to enhance production of agricultural and non-agricultural goods.

Further strengthens local government and civil society institutions in order for them to better support youth as agents of sustainable economic development and peace.

Human Rights Protection in Colombia ($8,000,000)

With: OHCHR (United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) 2011-2015

Through this project, Canada is supporting the OHCHR in Colombia, whose activities include the fight against impunity, and the strengthening of the capacity of the Colombian government to investigate human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law. The Commissioner’s Office also works to ensure the protection of, and provision of assistance to, victims of armed conflicts, human rights defenders and members of the judiciary. Canada’s support helps ensure the continuation of the Commissioner’s Office’s efforts to fulfil its monitoring and reporting mandate in Colombia.
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