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HE Juan Manuel Santos

MEXICO - Diplomacy

Cooperate & Coordinate

President, Colombia

Bio

Juan Manuel Santos graduated from the Naval School of Cartagena in 1969 and continued in the Colombian Navy, obtaining a BA and finishing as a Naval Cadet. After leaving the Navy, he attended the University of Kansas, graduating in 1973 with a BA in Economics and Business Administration and went on to receive an MSc in Economic Development from the London School of Economics and another in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He has worked as Chief Executive of the Colombian Coffee Delegation to the Interntional Coffee Organization and Sub-Director of his family-owned newspaper, El Tiempo. Under President César Gaviria, he acted as Minister of Foreign Trade. In 2006, he became Minister of Defense, before being elected President in June 2010.

How does the Colombian government assess economic relations between Mexico and Colombia? Historically, our two countries have had good economic relations and now that we are part of the Pacific […]

How does the Colombian government assess economic relations between Mexico and Colombia?

Historically, our two countries have had good economic relations and now that we are part of the Pacific Alliance, along with Chile and Peru, they are at their best. Since August 2011, when the deepening of our free trade agreement (FTA) came into force, an agreement that not only opens markets for goods and services but also sets forth clear-cut rules on trade and investment matters, the number of Colombian products with preferential access to the Mexican market has increased, as in the case of dairy products. With this deepened relationship, reinforced by the Pacific Alliance, we expect to increase access for our products into Mexico. We attach particular importance to the investment opportunities that emerge from the FTA. Mexico’s cumulative FDI in Colombia between 1994 and 3Q2012 reached $844 million, while Colombian investment in Mexico over the same period exceeded $1.85 billion. Confidence in the country and the FTA’s advantages have enabled the arrival of Mexican companies to Colombia such as Marí­tima Mexicana, Mabe, Mexalite, Coca-Cola Femsa, CEMEX, Bimbo, Mexichem, Cinépolis, the Vitro Group, Comcel, and Telmex. Our bilateral trade, which did not amount to $1 billion in 2002, reached $7.2 billion in 2012, with an increasingly positive trade balance in favor of Mexico. This trade imbalance has reached important proportions, which we seek to reduce by taking advantage of the trade opportunities afforded by the agreement.

What areas hold the most potential for development in terms of imports and exports between the two countries?

Mexico is an attractive country that has been a key trade partner for the diversification of our exports, especially for non-mining products. It is the fourth economy in the Americas and the second in Latin America, with 115 million inhabitants and a per capita GDP close to $18,000. One of the characteristics that makes Mexico such an important country is that, just as Colombia, it continues to open its markets and has a positive attitude toward imports. This is reflected by the FTAs it has signed and by the $390 billion on average it purchases from around the world each year. Through Proexport, our exports promotion agency, trade opportunities for Colombian businesses have been identified in sectors such as spirits, specifically rum; processed fruits and vegetables; designer cookware and other decorative articles; hotel supplies; cosmetics; apparel, such as jeans, swimwear, and underwear; software and IT services; fats and oils; sugar and sugar confectionary; cocoa and its preparations; dairy products; eggs; honey; preparations of meat, fish, or crustaceans; and chemical products and plastics. It is also important to attract their investment, given the fact that Mexico is the second Latin American country with the most investments abroad. Worldwide, Colombia is the ninth destination for Mexican greenfield projects, and the third in the region.

How can the Mexican and Colombian governments work together to combat common regional issues of violence and poverty?

Without a doubt, inequality is a concerning phenomenon in the region, as well as the violence levels generated by many factors, but in particular as a result of the global drug problem. Latin America and the Caribbean have been engaged in a head-on confrontation against this scourge, with high human and economic costs, and it’s extremely important to ensure greater international cooperation. We have also proposed that the Organization of American States (OAS) should conduct a thorough analysis of the War on Drugs we have been fighting for over 40 years, in order to determine where it has and where it hasn’t been successful, and identify what other alternatives are available to fight trafficking more effectively throughout all of its ramifications. At the Summit of the Americas held in Cartagena during April 2012, Mexico and Colombia, along with the other countries in the hemisphere, agreed on the need for this evaluation, which is expected to be ready in summer 2013. Colombia and Mexico have joined efforts through different cooperation mechanisms on intelligence matters, information exchange, and judicial cooperation. The purpose is to strengthen the policies, programs, and strategies, not only between our two countries, but also with the Central American region. In particular, on security matters, Colombia has activated the “International Cooperation Strategy on Comprehensive Security,” where we share experiences and capacities with 10 countries in the region: Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Haiti, and Suriname.

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