As part of a bilateral meeting between the United States and Colombia, held March 10, 2022 at the White House, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that he will declare Colombia a major non-NATO ally, which would give the South American country more privileges in the areas of defense, trade, and security cooperation.
“Today I am proud to announce that I intend to designate Colombia as major non-NATO ally,” said the U.S. president. For his part, Colombian President Iván Duque thanked his counterpart for the announcement and highlighted that both countries will soon reach 200 years of diplomatic relations. “We greatly appreciate that you have taken the decision to designate Colombia as a major non-NATO ally, because this is a recognition of the values and principles that we share,” he said, reported Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.
President Biden’s decision to elevate Colombia to the position of major non-NATO ally is key in terms of foreign policy, and is a privilege that few countries have had, said President Duque in an interview with Radio Caracol, following the White House meeting. Colombia is the third Latin American country to receive this designation and joins Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, and South Korea, among others, which are currently part of 18 major non-NATO ally countries.
The significance for Colombia
According to President Duque, this new status for Colombia means “the accelerated strengthening of commercial aspects, investment aspects, access to financing by U.S. entities,” among other benefits. In terms of security, it has important strategic implications, since “it allows us to have access to training, technical capabilities, weapons if required at any time, even temporarily, but essentially it strengthens cooperation in security matters, which between both countries are very close in the fight against terrorism and narcotrafficking,” said Duque to Radio Caracol. In the same interview he pointed out that defense equipment, such as fighter jets, could be accessed on loan, while the country carries out a long-term renovation process, and that intelligence and counterintelligence services could also be used to prevent cyberattacks.
For Colombian Vice President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucía Ramírez, this designation goes beyond military affairs and military equipment, “it also takes the high-level dialogue between both nations into account, where there are eight core issues for the future of Colombia and the bilateral relationship: economic development, education, rural development, security and defense, democracy, migration, climate change, and COVID,” said the Colombian minister.
This designation, which impacts foreign policy and bilateral relations, is one of the most important in the history of both nations, not only because of the context of the war between Ukraine and Russia and its uncertainties, but also because of the opportunities in cooperation, technology, and financing that are opening up for Colombia, Colombian digital news site Portafolio reported.