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Policy & History
June 2, 2018

The United States established diplomatic relations with Colombia in 1822, following its independence from Spain. Colombia is a middle-income country and one of the oldest democracies in Latin America. Colombia has experienced more than half a century of conflict with illegal armed groups, including Marxist guerillas and transnational criminal organizations involved in illegal drug trafficking. The Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced they had reached a final peace accord on August 24, 2016 after four years of negotiations.  Long-term U.S. interests in Colombia include promoting security, prosperity and good governance.

Colombia’s National Consolidation Plan seeks to re-establish state control and legitimacy in strategically important areas previously dominated by illegal armed groups through a phased approach that combines security, counternarcotics, and economic and social development initiatives. Colombia’s Victims and Land Restitution Law seeks to provide reparations and assistance to more than seven million registered victims of conflict, nearly six million of whom have been internally displaced. U.S. policy supports the Colombian government’s efforts to strengthen its democratic institutions, promote respect for human rights and the rule of law, foster socio-economic development, address immediate humanitarian needs, and end the threats to democracy posed by narcotics trafficking and terrorism.

The United States and Colombia have signed agreements on trade, environmental protection, asset sharing, chemical control, ship-boarding, renewable and clean energy, science and technology, and civil aviation.

U.S. Assistance to Colombia

The U.S. government supports Colombian efforts to transition from conflict towards peace by working in the most conflictive and neglected rural areas of Colombia, where violence, the lack of government presence, and the absence of licit economic opportunities have historically converged. U.S. programs provide support for:  the implementation of Colombian government reforms in land restitution; reparations for victims and vulnerable populations, including ethnic communities; public and private investments, in particular to foster a vibrant rural economy; reintegration of ex-combatants; promoting respect for human rights and the rule of law; protection of vulnerable citizens (such as human rights and labor activists); and addressing global climate change and environmental issues in one of the most ecologically diverse countries in the world.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The United States is Colombia’s largest trade partner. The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, which entered into force in May 2012, aims to improve the investment environment, eliminate tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports, expand trade, and promote economic growth in both countries. Primary U.S. exports to Colombia include oil, machinery, agricultural products, and organic chemicals. Primary U.S. imports from Colombia include crude oil, gold, coffee, and cut flowers. Approximately 250 U.S. businesses conduct operations in Colombia. U.S. direct investment in Colombia is primarily concentrated in the mining and manufacturing sectors.

Colombia’s Membership in International Organizations

Colombia and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Organization of American States, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.  Colombia is in the process of joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.