Colombia is a priority country of SECO’s economic cooperation and development. The country’s recent history has been marked by serious contrasts: on the one hand, Colombia is one of the oldest and most stable democracies in Latin America, the region’s fourth largest economy, and since April 2020 member of the OECD. On the other hand, the Colombian society is one of the most unequal in the world, and the country continues to be strongly affected by armed violence. To address these challenges, SECO focuses on promoting sustainable regional development and strives, together with the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) and the Peace and Human Rights Division (PHRD), for a prosperous, inclusive and peaceful Colombia.
Colombia is in a transition phase. The country is marked by a 60-year old conflict with very weak state presence in certain territories. However, Colombia is developing towards a peaceful state with stronger institutions that apply OECD practices and offers new economic opportunities.
Peace process as precondition for development
Colombia has one of the highest income disparities worldwide. The resolution of the armed conflict and a lasting peaceful environment are preconditions for the State to provide infrastructure and services. They allow for progress and the reduction of inequalities. Weak infrastructure and low productivity make it hard for the economy to compete internationally. As a result, the economy does not create enough formal jobs, which leaves the country with one of the highest unemployment rates in the region.
What are SECO’s objectives?
Inequality is a threat and key challenge towards the transition to a prosperous, inclusive and peaceful Colombia. SECO aims to support Colombia in this critical phase to become a more inclusive society by broadening the benefits of economic development to less developed regions. In Colombia, Switzerland strives for sustainable peace and economic development that creates opportunities for all. SECO promotes sustainable regional development and supports Colombia in its transition to build:
- Sustainable cities and territories, stronger institutions and better public services
SECO assists national, regional and local governments in managing and coordinating their finances. It further helps cities and territories to plan and register their areas and to take a greener approach to construction. Thereby, the Colombian people profit from environmentally friendly and resilient living areas and efficient institutions, which provide better public services such as access to water, energy or public transport.
- Improved regional competitiveness and decent jobs
SECO helps to make companies more competitive by facilitating market access and reducing the cost of doing business, especially for small and medium enterprises. SECO also supports an efficient labour market and employee training programmes. Therewith, it aims to create decent jobs in less prosperous regions and reduce Colombia’s dependence on commodities trading.
SECO, the SDC and PHRD jointly define the overall objectives of the Swiss Cooperation Programme in Colombia. From 2021 to 2024, a total of some CHF 100 million is foreseen for Swiss international cooperation with Colombia. SECO will contribute around CHF 45 million.