Colombia is a priority country of SECO’s economic development cooperation. The country has made important steps in the peace process by signing the peace agreement with the FARC. Moreover, it is in the accession process with the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). However, certain areas of the country continue to be heavily impacted by the presence of organized armed groups and organized crime. SECO is working to create better economic prospects, thereby also contributing to lasting peace.
Colombia has for many years been a stable democracy with a growing middle class. Since the start of the millennium, per capita income has grown by an average of 3% p.a. Besides, it is the second most biodiverse country in the world.
Large urban/rural divide
Colombia still faces many challenges. Its economy is little diversified and has difficulty competing internationally. As a result, it does not create enough formal jobs. Despite the peace process, development is slow to take hold in outlying regions. For example, people living in these areas have little access to electricity or running water, not to mention financial services. The country’s natural resources are not used sustainably, and climate change is causing natural disasters. Rural depopulation has caused cities to expand rapidly and often without any real urban planning. This has led to serious problems with public utilities and transportation.
What are SECO’s objectives?
In Colombia, Switzerland strives for sustainable peace and economic development that creates opportunities for all. SECO promotes inclusive and sustainable economic development by focusing on the following three areas:
Sustainable urban development and resource management
SECO helps towns to plan their development and take a greener approach to construction. It creates incentives for SMEs to invest in technologies offering greater resource efficiency.
Improved competitiveness and job creation
SECO helps to make companies more competitive by facilitating market access and reducing the cost of doing business, especially for SMEs. SECO also supports employee training programmes. This way, it aims to create jobs in less prosperous regions and lessen Colombia’s dependence on commodities trading.
Public services for all
SECO assists national, regional and local bodies in managing and coordinating their finances. Thereby, the Colombian people profit from efficient institutions, which provide better public services.
Apart from SECO, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Human Security Division (HSD) within Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs also operate in Colombia.
From 2017 to 2020, a total of some CHF 100 million is earmarked for Swiss international cooperation with Colombia, of which around CHF 55 million is from SECO.