Switzerland accelerated a four-year development cooperation program by signing deals with two national agencies and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Colombia.
Colombia benefited from US$20 million of Switzerland’s international development budget in 2009 after being identified as one of seven ‘priority’ targets of their foreign aid. Switzerland has opened a branch of its State Secretariat for Economic Affairs in Bogota as part of its commitment to encourage development in Colombia until at least 2012.
One of the new deals was signed with the national Meteorological and Hydraulic Institute in order to boost its environmental monitoring. The US$5 million project was praised by Dr. Ricardo Lozano, Director of the Institute, for its potential to help plan against climate change in Colombia.
Another deal with Confecámeras, a national federation of business chambers, pledges support to efforts to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of small businesses. The third agreement with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce provides institutional assistance to help Colombia implement the bilateral free trade agreements that it has signed or is currently trying to establish.
The three new projects chime with the specified goals of Switzerland’s Colombia development programme, which Beatrice Maser Mellor, head of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affair’s Economic Cooperation and Development Division identified as “strengthening decentralized economic growth, improving international competitiveness and fermenting sustainable commerce”.
Maser added to business magazine Dinero that Switzerland had moved to invest in Colombia after being encouraged by developments of recent years. She said “we chose Colombia as one of the seven priority countries due to their positive performance in terms of economic reform during the past five years and because it has become a regional economic center whose development will positively affect neighboring countries.”