President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) asked this Wednesday (17) that Brazil and Colombia act to coordinate regional integration that allows for increased trade between South American countries. He met with the head of the Executive Colombian, Gustavo Petro, in Bogotá.

In speeches at the opening of the Business Forum between Brazil and Colombia, the two reinforced the need for both countries to expand trade and coordinate action in defense of the Amazon forest. Lula said that, when he took office in 2003, Brazil and Colombia had a trade flow of around R$15 billion with the whole of South America and that today it is R$42 billion. According to him, this number is still “far below what it could be”.

Gustavo Petro said that, in addition to deepening trade relations, it is necessary to make exports between countries more complex. “We import industrialized vehicles and sell corn. We import coffee from Brazil, a product that we produce. It is not logical that we import things that we produce. Despite the values, it is not exactly what we call positive for the 21st century”, he stated the Colombian.

The Brazilian president also reinforced that it is necessary to expand the export agenda. According to him, Brazil and Colombia together have more than 250 million consumers and it is important that countries in the region act to advance the technology of production chains so that they can also sell products with greater added value.

Strategic alliance

At the meeting, the two also discussed the importance of taking the lead in protecting the environment. Petro said climate change is destroying the Amazon rainforest and water supplies throughout the Andes region. He also called for a strategic alliance between Brazil and Colombia to “pull all of Latin America into this debate.”

“If the Amazon rainforest ends, there will be no water in Bogotá and the entire Cordillera [dos Andes]. Here we have a common action by Brazil and Colombia inviting other Amazon countries to save the forest. And this requires public, economic and military policies. It is a fundamental topic that is on our agenda”, stated Petro.

The two countries also discussed joint action to “decarbonize” the economy. Petro proposed that oil companies in Brazil, Petrobras, and Colombia, Ecopetrol, have clean energy projects and invest in green hydrogen.

Lula ended his speech by calling for greater coordination between countries in the Global South. According to him, South American countries need to be responsible for defining “what we want and what integration policy is important for the region.”

“Our head is historically turned on one side towards Europe, where the colonizers were, and on the other towards the most powerful economy, which is the USA. Businessmen here were afraid of Brazil. They treated Brazil as an empire that could wipe out local companies We have to stop being afraid of each other. We don’t want hegemony, we want partnerships,” said Lula.

Another topic expected for the meeting was the elections in Venezuela. Both Lula and Petro criticized the country’s electoral process and stated that they were “concerned” with the progress of the election. In an interview after the event, Lula said that the two had already discussed this issue and “now, at this meeting, the most important thing is to discuss the relationship between Brazil and Colombia.”

The two countries signed agreements in the areas of tourism, trade promotion, health, agricultural development, communications and connectivity. In the speech, the presidents spoke about projects that already exist and that need to be expanded, such as the fiber optic connection between Letícia, in Colombia, and Tabatinga, in Amazonas.

Lula ended his speech by citing the importance of the Amazon Summit, held in 2023 in Belém, Pará, and cited the special advisor for International Affairs, Celso Amorim, to ask for proactivity from South American countries.

“What makes us grow is not subservience. As Amorim would say, what makes us grow is an active and proud position in the political world and in the business world,” said Lula.

Meetings in 2023

This is the fourth meeting between the presidents. In January 2023, Petro attended Lula’s inauguration in Brasília. In May, Lula called a meeting in Brasília to discuss regional integration with other South American heads of state. On that occasion, the two had a bilateral meeting.

On July 8, the two participated in a meeting in the city of Leticia, in southern Colombia, to discuss regional cooperation to preserve the Amazon. The meeting preceded the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) summit that took place in Belém, Pará.

Editing: Nicolau Soares


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