Miguel Angel Rodriguez, Ambassador of Colombia, writes for Việt Nam News on the 211th anniversary of Colombia's Independence Day (July 20)
Today, we celebrate Colombia’s Independence Day. On July 20, 1810, the people of Colombia declared their independence and elected the members of the Supreme Governing Board. More than two centuries after this landmark event, Colombians have consolidated a democratic rule of law governed by a constitution, separation of powers, independent regulatory authorities and respectful of human dignity. We are a society with a wide ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity, in which fifty million citizens live together.
Ruta N - Innovation and Business Centre of Medellin, Colombia, Courtesy Photo of the embassy
The Colombian economy is the fastest growing economy in Latin America in the last 50 years, with a competitive internal dynamic and an external sector in permanent growth, leveraged by sixteen free trade agreements. Furthermore, we have a significant amount of foreign direct investment thanks to Colombia’s legal certainty and the institutional and financial stability which have always characterised the country.
Before the pandemic, the Colombian economy grew at an average rate of 3.6 per cent. For instance, in 2019 the GDP increased 3.3 per cent, mainly driven by the financial and insurance, defence, education, health, trade and transport sectors. Unfortunately, in 2020 COVID-19 cruelly broke into the life of our planet and our economic growth declined. In response, the Colombian national government has been successfully working to stop the negative effects on the economy resulting in encouraging economic figures during the first half of 2021. This year, we estimate GDP increase up to 6.5 per cent.
With a clear international vocation, Colombia is a country that trusts in the benefits of multilateralism, and consequently has promoted the strengthening of the United Nations. At the regional level, Colombia is the founding country of the Inter-American System, led by the Organization of American States-OAS. In addition, during the last year we have chaired three important regional mechanisms: the Andean Community, a supranational integration organization; the Pacific Alliance, a strategic platform for trade and political integration with a projection towards the Asia- Pacific region; and the Forum for the Progress and Development of South America - PROSUR.
In recent years Colombia has gained a greater presence in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in Southeast Asia, where we currently have six embassies. This approach has been reflected in a deepening of the relationship with ASEAN, which supported the accession of Colombia to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in November 2020.
Colombia established diplomatic relations with the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam on January 1, 1979, and in 2014 we opened the Embassy of Colombia in Hà Nội. This has allowed us to consolidate a broad work agenda in areas such as cooperation, trade, tourism, culture, and education, promoted through the biannual meetings of the Political Consultation Mechanism signed in 2012, which held its fifth meeting in October 2020.
Colombia’s trade relations with Việt Nam have considerably improved during the last five years, reaching $685 million dollars in 2019. Despite the difficulties of the pandemic in 2020, trade between the two countries remained reasonably stable, reaching an amount of $640 million dollars. Bilateral trade between Colombia and Việt Nam has great potential to expand and we wish to continue working on identifying new opportunities for cooperation, especially in the agricultural sector.
In health cooperation, last year both countries carried out a number of activities focused on meeting the priority needs related to the pandemic. Colombia is convinced that international cooperation and solidarity requires coordinated global actions to overcome the pandemic. Accordingly, from the beginning we have supported the COVAX initiative, which currently Colombia co-chairs.
In the area of education, since 2018 Colombia has been successfully implementing the Spanish language teaching program for Vietnamese public officials. We will hold the 2021 version of this program during the second semester of this year.
In the multilateral arena, both countries have had a fluid dialogue on aspects of mutual interest. I'd like to take this opportunity to highlight the support and recognition of Việt Nam, as a Non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council, to the implementation of the policy of “Peace with Legality” developed by President Iván Duque, and which implements Colombia’s peace agreement signed on 2016.
Relationships between Colombia and Việt Nam are heading in the right direction. I am sure that if we turn the difficulties generated by the current health crisis into opportunities to innovate, to implement responsive mechanisms, and to generate creative solutions, we will lead to greater prosperity for both countries and our citizens.
On this significant date for our country, I would like to extend my warmest greetings and recognition to the members of the Colombian community in Việt Nam for their valuable contributions to the productive, cultural, and educational sectors, and for always uphold the social values of solidarity and friendship. Likewise, I would like to thank Việt Nam, its authorities, and its citizens, for the warm welcome they have always given us with the greatest spirit of brotherhood. VNS