PART OF THE PROCESS

Colombia 2013 | DIPLOMACY | FOCUS: OECD ACCESSION

Large amounts of FDI, improved security measures, and a healthy financial sector have boosted Colombia's hopes of attaining OECD membership by 2015.

Aspirations of joining the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) were heightened in 2Q2013, when the Latvian Foreign Ministry State Secretary, Andris Teikmanis, participated in bilateral meetings with Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Monica Lanzetta of Colombia. From April 17 to 19 in Bogotá, the political leaders discussed their similar situation in seeking OECD membership—both countries have met the requirements set by the international institution and see benefits in deepening multilateral and global cooperation.

Following President Santos' submitted request to join the OECD in 2011, Colombia was invited to adhere to the Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises in December of the same year. As the 43rd country invited to sign the declaration, the commitment demonstrated the OECD's recognition of Colombia as an attractive investment destination. As of early 2013, Colombia had “officially formalized [itself] as a full member of the Investment Group of the OECD, and the country currently participates in several committees," according to Sergio Díaz Granados, Minister of Trade, Industry, and Tourism.

However, Colombia still strives to achieve full membership. As part of the country's larger plan to be integrated into the global economy, Colombia's participation in the OECD would allow it to benefit from the work and experiences of leading countries in terms of formulating public policy. Membership would also enable Colombia to be part of a group of nations that seeks development and progress for their citizens. Additionally, OECD membership would help attract and secure more foreign investment and inspire the country to take a qualitative leap in terms of its development policy. To be in line with other OECD members, the overall quality of Colombia's public policies would also likely see improvement. “Our goal is to be accepted into this organization in two years' time," Minister Díaz explained to TBY, adding, “Colombia's entry into the OECD will require compliance with all the social and economic commitments of the organization."

Aside from the three main criteria for joining the OECD—an open economy, pluralist democracy, and respect for human rights—the organizations has a detailed “Accession Roadmap" that Chile, Estonia, Israel, Russia, and Slovenia were instructed to follow during open membership discussions in 2007. If invited, Colombia would also be required to sign and carry out the Accession Roadmap, a process that generally takes up to three years to complete. The document “stipulates the steps that the candidate country should take to conclude the process and indicates the amount of resources required to cover the costs of the procedure." As in other cases, Colombia would be responsible for the costs of carrying out the Accession Roadmap.

Since the acceptance of Colombia into the OECD would eventually be decided on the condition of unanimity, deepening ties with member states has been top priority in the past two years. To this end, Colombia delegates recently engaged with Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, who announced his support for the incorporation of the Latin American nation in May 2013. In addition to encouragement from countries in the Baltic region, various members of the OECD such as the US, Italy, France, Poland, and South Korea have stated that they would support Colombia as a candidate.

As the country recovers from serious security issues and embarks on new trade and transportation initiatives in 2013, an invitation to join the OECD and begin the accession process would be most welcome for the second largest economy in South America. Not only would Colombia take pride in being a part of a group of countries known for their good governance, but the country would also be recognized for its peaceful social agenda.