ALONG THE BORDER

Colombia 2014 | DIPLOMACY | GUEST SPEAKER

TBY talks to Eda Rivas Franchini, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peru, on trade relations with the EU and Colombia, the significance of the Pacific Alliance, and border cooperation.

Eda Rivas Franchini
BIOGRAPHY
On May 15, 2013, Eda Rivas Franchini was elected as the first woman to lead the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru. She was previously the Minister of Justice and Human Rights (July 2012-May 2013). She studied Law at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. She also holds a degree of specialization in the Regulation of Public Service Infrastructure from Universidad de Las Palmas de la Gran Canaria, Spain; and in Public Service Management from Universidad de Castilla La Mancha-UCLM, Toledo, Spain. In addition to these, Rivas has certified studies in Negotiation and Effective Communication Strategies in Conflict Management from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú’s Center of Analysis and Conflict Resolution.

In 2012, the EU approved a multilateral trade agreement with Colombia and Peru in order to promote trade between the two nations and the EU. How is this cooperation reinforcing commercial relations in each country?

There is a long tradition in Peru and Colombia in working together on integration projects, such as the Andean Community, which was established in 1969, and the Pacific Alliance, which came about in 2011. The agreement that we both have signed with the EU equally benefits our countries, as well as creating new opportunities for us to pursue in the future with optimism. Besides the multiple benefits of every trade agreement, this one strengthens cooperation between Colombia and Peru by promoting similar trade and investment policies. This homogenization also includes social issues, for example, democratic clauses, and the commitment to defend the human rights of citizens.

In June 2013, Peru and Colombia signed the Plan de Desarrollo de la Zona de Integración Fronteriza. Why is border integration important for both nations, and how is this plan impacting populations settled in the border regions?

Peru's border integration area comprises more than 2 million km2 and five neighboring countries. Colombia and Peru share around 277,000 km2 of border integration area, with more than 600,000 persons in poverty and extreme poverty living in that area. It is a particularly vulnerable borderland, not only because of its difficult accessibility and population dispersion, but also because it encompasses an important area of the Amazon rainforest, which involves the need for sustainable development programs and projects. The signing of the Plan de Desarrollo de la Zona de Integración Fronteriza is a sample of both countries intention to have a tool to guide common initiatives to seize the opportunities of border integration. We are looking forward to an intense work agenda in order to achieve positive results in the coming years. In this regard, I would like to highlight the recent creation of our National Commission on Border Development, which certainly will allow us to facilitate our common agenda. The challenge for Colombia and Peru is to integrate our countries effectively in those border areas, where it has always been more difficult for our states to arrive and provide adequate services to our populations.

What are the advantages of the Pacific Alliance for Colombia and Peru?

Peru and Colombia, together with Mexico and Chile, are part of the Pacific Alliance, which aims to promote economic, political, as well as social union within the four countries. The Pacific Alliance is, indeed, one of the most successful integration mechanisms in the region. It is also an effective platform for different cooperative projects beyond trade and investment. As I mentioned before, Peru and Colombia share an important Amazon rainforest area. Thus, every single intention of economic growth projects in the borderland between our countries must be linked to sustainable development concepts. There is no doubt that environmental issues and sustainable development projects will also be an important part of the Pacific Alliance commitment to the world. In 2010, Mexico held the UN Climate Change Conference and, in 2014, Peru will be the host. This is certainly a great chance for us to highlight the relevance of sustainable development concepts in economic growth and development projects.

In 2011, President Humala and President Santos met in order to discuss the common ground and strong bonds between Peru and Colombia. What is your opinion on future bilateral relations between the two nations?

Peru and Colombia have not only similar opportunities toward development, but also akin threats and obstacles to overcome. Bilateral meetings, as well as signed agreements and integration mechanisms, serve as instruments to strengthen our relations. I firmly believe our future with Colombia is positive and full of promise. During the past few years, we have been working effectively in different areas, such as border region development and our active participation in the Pacific Alliance, which will allow both countries to provide the world with plentiful investment and trade opportunities, and to attract international cooperation in order to continue making efforts toward social inclusion and sustainable development projects. In my opinion, we can talk about firm joint development policies if we try to project bilateral relations between Colombia and Peru.