Quito, Jan 31 (EFE).- The presidents of Ecuador and Colombia discussed joint cooperation and work on environment, security, trade and regional integration, among others, at the XI Binational Cabinet meeting in the Ecuadorian border city of Tulcan on Tuesday.
At the end of the bilateral summit, Guillermo Lasso and Gustavo Petro said significant progress had been made in the development of a bilateral action plan for this year.
A total of “79 new commitments” were adopted for 2023 across seven thematic axes, according to the Ecuadorian foreign ministry although ministry sources told EFE that some points were still being fine-tuned by both delegations.
The thematic axes cover “security and defense, infrastructure and connectivity, border issues, environmental issues, social and cultural issues, economic and commercial issues and the Binational Plan of the Border Integration Zone,” the ministry added.
In a joint statement after the meeting, Lasso and Petro said that they agreed on the analysis on the situation of the bilateral relationship and the joint challenges facing regional integration.
Lasso said that the most important point on which he and Petro agreed was the risks faced by the two countries, the region and the world due to the negative impact of the climate crisis.
The Ecuadorian leader added that an agreement has been reached that a Binational Council against environmental crimes meet every six months and that support be generated for the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), which comprises of civil society organizations from the countries that share that forest, including Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.
He also announced that a prior meeting of authorities is planned in the city of Leticia in Colombia’s Amazon to organize a subsequent meeting of the heads of state in the region.
Lasso said that a second meeting has been scheduled of the bilateral working group that analyzes the situation of vehicles impounded in the other country.
He also touched on the creation of a working group that evaluates the opportunities and risks on global value chains while highlighting the defense plans that have led to “collaborative work” in the common border area.
The possibility of strengthening cooperation on “the interdiction of drugs in our seas” was also analyzed at the meeting, he added.
For his part, Petro said that both countries are seeking to boost trade flows and that this also involves efforts in infrastructures ,such as the expansion of the Pan-American Highway that connects Ecuador and Colombia to four lanes.
Petro added that having a quality Pan-American Highway to the south could provide opportunities for large volumes of trade from Colombia to reach the southern part of South America.
The Colombian president hoped that a regional connection through railway lines or by sea would be considered, in addition to reinforcing the idea of a Latin American energy union. EFE