Republic of Colombia
Relations between Brazil and Colombia have been strengthened in the past decades. The third-largest economy in South America, Colombia is also an important destination for Brazilian investments. Around 102 Brazilian companies are established in Colombia, with business activities in sectors as varied as agrobusiness, financing, cosmetics, infrastructure, iron and steel, and information and communication technology. Over the past four years, the number of Brazilian companies operating in the neighboring country has increased twofold, which is a sign of the confidence of the private sector in the potential of the Colombian economy. A study by the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil) shows that, in terms of interest of small and medium-sized Brazilian businesses for their internationalization, Colombia is the second destination, behind only the United States.
The Cooperation and Investment Facilitation Agreement was signed in 2015 and ratified by Brazil in April 2018. Once it comes into effect in Colombia, it will help promote investments and build a business environment even more reliable and friendly to investors from the two countries.
The Colombia-MERCOSUR Economic Complementation Agreement n. 72, signed in 2017 and in force since 2018, represented an important step as it included the automotive agreement signed in 2015 and expanded liberalization to 97% of tariffs on trade with Colombia, thus benefiting the textile, iron and steel, and automotive sectors, in particular.
Bilateral trade reflects the close relations between the two countries: trade between Brazil and Colombia reached $4.53 billion in 2018, an increase of roughly 15% over 2017 ($3.95 billion). Brazilian exports to Colombia are diverse and include mostly manufactured products such as automobiles, flat-rolled iron and steel products, ethylene, propylene and styrene polymers, preparations for elaboration of drinks, and new tires. Main imports from Colombia include non-agglomerated coals, coke and semi-coke of coal, PVC, ethylene, propylene and styrene polymers, and insecticides and herbicides.
Trade between Brazil and Colombia has a great potential yet to be exploited. Although it is the third-largest economy in South America, Colombia ranked, in 2018, 19th among the main destinations of Brazilian exports and 24th among the countries of origin of Brazilian imports. Brazil has been negotiating initiatives with the neighboring country aimed at facilitating the exploitation of the full potential of bilateral trade in goods, services, and investments. To this end, in July 2018, the MERCOSUR-Colombia Agreement on Services was signed, and bilateral negotiations have advanced towards the signing of an agreement to avoid double taxation.
From a political perspective, there are several forums aimed at addressing issues of mutual interest. Brazil and Colombia have kept a long history of border cooperation and have held meetings of the Neighborhood and Integration Commission, established in 1994. Border development has shown signs of improvement, with concrete impacts on the lives of border communities, for instance, the successful projects such as the capacity building of civil servants, in 2017, and the financial inclusion, completed in 2019, both carried out in the regions of Tabatinga and Leticia.
Given the inherent challenges of a long Amazon border (1642.5km/1020.6 mi), Brazil and Colombia have sought to deepen the exchange of intelligence information and to share logistical elements with a view to engage more efficiently in the fight against transnational crime. In this regard, highlights include the annual meetings within the scope of the Binational Border Commission, which has sought to facilitate the sharing of experiences by the forces of the two countries in operations carried out on both sides of the border.
Brazil supports the Colombian peace process through cooperation in topics including demining and agriculture, which are essential in the Colombian post-conflict scenario. The Brazilian cooperation in the field of humanitarian demining remains a relevant contribution to the Colombian peacebuilding efforts. Since 2006, Brazil has appointed Army and Navy officers as collaborators in bilaterally-coordinated missions or missions coordinated by Groups of Monitors (GMI/OAS) and Inter-American Technical Advisors Groups (TAGs/OAS). Today, dozens of Brazilian military officers are assigned to monitoring, instruction, and advisory missions at several locations of the Colombian territory. To date, more than 70 Brazilian officers have taken part in instruction and monitoring activities. Brazil also acts as a guarantor of peace talks between the Colombian Government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), the last active guerrilla group in Colombia. The dialogue process is currently suspended.
Brazil has been cooperating with Colombia in projects aimed at the structural reform of rural areas in the post-conflict scenario, in order to assist the Colombian government in its goal of promoting territorial occupation, the substitution of illegal crops and economic integration of former combatants. Between 2015 and 2016, the Brazilian government financed, in partnership with FAO, a project that contributed to the development of national capacities for public procurement from family farming producers, as well as for the development of the regulatory framework and of governance in this area. Another important Brazilian contribution was the support for the sustainable development of the Colombian cotton sector by increasing agricultural productivity and generating income.
Brazil and Colombia also work together at the regional level. Both are founding members of PROSUR – the Forum for the Progress in South America – and the Lima Group, as well as partners in the effort to bring the Pacific Alliance and MERCOSUR closer together.
The convergence of values between Brazil and Colombia is most evident in the common efforts to overcome the crisis in Venezuela, with an emphasis on mitigating the humanitarian emergency and defending the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in the neighboring country. The concertation of positions within the Lima Group reveals the vocation of both countries to promote South America's stability and prosperity.
Chronology of bilateral relations
1907 – Treaty of Boundaries between Brazil and Colombia, using as a basis for demarcation, among others, the Tabatinga-Apapóris line
1925 – Minutes of Washington, between Brazil, Colombia and Peru, which ensures the recognition of the Tabatinga-Apapóris line as the border between Brazil and Colombia
1972 – Basic Technical Cooperation Agreement between Brazil and Colombia
1981 – President Figueiredo visits Colombia (the first visit of a Head of State of Brazil to Colombia)
1981 – The President of Colombia, Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala, visits Brazil
2003 – The President of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe, visits Brasilia (March 7)
2003 – President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva visits Medellin, on the occasion of the 14th Meeting of the Andean Presidential Council (June 27)
2004 – Presidential meeting at the First Brazil-Colombia Business Round (June 21)
2005 – President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visits Leticia (January 19)
2005 – President Álvaro Uribe visits Salvador to attend the 2nd World Coffee Conference (September 24)
2005 – President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visits Bogota (December 14)
2006 – President Álvaro Uribe visits Brasilia (April 25)
2007 – Agreement on the Facilitation for the Entry and Transit of their Nationals in their Territories
2008 – President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visits Colombia – Bogota and Leticia (July 19-20)
2008 – Protocol on Economic and Commercial Cooperation between Brazil and Colombia. Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Combating the Illicit Manufacture of and Trafficking of Firearms, Ammunition, Accessories, Explosives, and Other Related Materials. Agreement on Cooperation in Defense.
2009 – President Álvaro Uribe visits Brazil (February 16-17)
2009 – Memorandum of Understanding for the Establishment of the Brazil-Colombia Bilateral Commission
2009 – Presidential Meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum for Latin America in Rio de Janeiro (April 15)
2009 – First Meeting of the Brazil-Colombia Bilateral Commission co-chaired by foreign ministers, in Cartagena (June 8)
2009 – First meeting of the Brazil-Colombia Bilateral Trade Monitoring Committee, in Brasilia (June 19)
2009 – President Álvaro Uribe visits Brazil (Brasilia, October 19)
2010 – President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visits Colombia for the inauguration of President Juan Manuel Santos (Bogota, August 7)
2010 – President Juan Manuel Santos visits Brasilia (September 1)
2010 – Agreement on Residence, Study and Work in Border Towns. Letter of Intent between Defense Ministries on the Program for the Production of KC-390 Combat Aircraft. Cooperation Agreement between the Brazilian Federal Police and the Colombian National Police. Letter of Intent between Capes and the Colciências to foster cooperation between research groups
2011 – President Santos visits Brasilia for the inauguration of President Dilma Rousseff (January 1)
2011 – Second meeting of the Brazil-Colombia Bilateral Commission, co-chaired by Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio de Aguiar Patriota and his Colombian counterpart María Ángela Holguín (Brasilia, October 26)
2012 – Brazil was the country honored at the 25th Bogota Book Fair
2012 – Cartagena Declaration - Meeting of Ministers of Defense, Justice, Interior and Foreign Affairs of Unasur (Cartagena, Colombia, May 3-4)
2012 – 14th Meeting of Neighborhood and Integration Commission (Tabatinga, October 17-18)
2012 – Signing of a cooperation agreement for the promotion of food security based on the Brazilian experience of public procurement from family farming producers.
2012 – The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, visits Bogota and meets with his Colombian counterpart, María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, on the occasion of the 3rd Meeting of the Brazil-Colombia Bilateral Commission. Signing of Memorandum of Understanding which restructures the Brazil-Colombia Neighborhood and Integration Commission (November 5)
2013 – 15th Meeting of the Neighborhood and Integration Commission (Leticia, October 21-23)
2014 – 16th Meeting of the Neighborhood and Integration Commission (Brasilia, September 23-24)
2015 – 17th Meeting of the Brazil-Colombia Neighborhood and Integration Commission (Bogota, August 25)
2016 – The President of the Republic travels to Colombia, on the occasion of the signing of the Peace Agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC (Cartagena, September 26)
2018 – The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, María Ángela Holguín, and the Minister of National Defense of Colombia, Luis Carlos Villegas, visit Brazil (Brasilia, February 21)
2019 – Vice-president of Colombia Marta Lucía Ramírez represents President Duque at the inauguration of President Jair Bolsonaro (January 1st)
2019 – Bilateral business meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland