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Statement in Bogotá, Colombia

December 3, 2014

Statement by the Governor General of Canada in Bogotá, Colombia,
in the Presence of President Santos Calderón

BOGOTÁ—I would like to begin by thanking President Santos for inviting my wife, Sharon, and me to Colombia for this State visit. I am delighted to be the first governor general of Canada to visit Colombia.

We are pleased to be joined by a talented and dedicated delegation of Canadians who share our goal of strengthening the relationship between our two countries.

Canada is committed to fostering lasting relationships in the Americas, and our long association with Colombia is of great importance to us.

The President and I just had a very productive meeting where we discussed the strong ties between our countries.

As I said to President Santos, in so many ways, Canada and Colombia are ideal partners. Foremost, there are our strong people-to-people ties, with more than 44 000 Colombians living in Canada, and over 5 000 Canadians living here in Colombia. These connections are at the core of our relationship, and a wonderful base to build upon.

We are working together towards common goals on a number of fronts.

For more than 40 years, Canada and Colombia have been collaborating on development co-operation. Since 2006, Canada has invested more than CAD $137 million  in support of child protection, access to education, human rights protection, rural economic development, youth employment and trade-related assistance.

Let me highlight one example: Canada is working with Colombia and sharing innovative approaches towards rural economic development. By focusing our assistance in Colombia on vulnerable groups and providing technical assistance for rural economic development, we are helping to revitalize rural areas. In doing so, we are contributing to the goal of a lasting peace in Colombia.

Tomorrow, I will be pleased to participate in the official launch of three significant rural economic development initiatives that Canada will support.  Announced earlier this year these initiatives will help small-scale farmers in Colombia strengthen their cooperatives, increase their production, and facilitate their access to financing and new markets.

Canada and Colombia are also working together to promote natural resource development, an area of great potential for both of our countries and, one for which we must ensure sustainability and responsible business practices. The key to our success in these areas will be to work closely with local communities. This again highlights the importance of our people-to-people ties.

Education is another sphere of co-operation. Canada is proud of its strengths in education, including science and technology research as well as technical and professional training. Canada seeks to advance our educational ties with Colombia and to reinforce our learning partnership, including by offering scholarships to Colombian students through the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program.

Our economic relationship is another source of shared pride and potential. As a priority country in both Canada’s Global markets Action Plan, and Strategy for Engagement in the Americas, Colombia is a dynamic and exciting commercial partner for Canada. Our two countries have implemented a Free Trade Agreement, and Canadian and Colombian companies alike are seeking to diversify and enlarge their investment and commercial ties.

Also, in the context of the Pacific Alliance, an exciting initiative to which Canada was the first non-Latin observer country, Canada and Colombia are exploring ways to cooperate with the goal to increase prosperity for our countries and the hemisphere.

I am very proud to know that Canadian companies active in Colombia are also playing a role in the social and economic well-being of this great country. In fact, tomorrow, I look forward to witnessing the pledge of one Canadian private sector stakeholder in support of a bilingual education initiative, an area I understand to be of priority for President Santos and his government.  This is one such example that I have had the pleasure to learn about during my trip of Canadian companies contributing to the shared development goals of Canada and Colombia.

At first glance, Canada and Colombia may look very different, but in fact we share much common ground. Let us therefore work together to build smarter, more caring societies, and let us do so in a spirit of friendship and co-operation.

Thank you again for welcoming us to this great country.

David Johnston


Media information:

Marie-Pierre Bélanger
Rideau Hall Press Office

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