May 18, 2021
Chairman, U.S.-Egypt Business Council, CEO and President, Apache Corporation
Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
COVID-19 has caused — or worsened — many problems around the world, from unemployment to healthcare inequality. To achieve global economic recovery, countries across the world must work together to bridge these gaps and resolve these issues. H.E. Ivan Duque Marquez, president of Colombia, discussed how his country is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and ways the U.S. and other countries can help at the U.S. Chamber's Global Forum on Economic Recovery.
Colombia Has Addressed All Crises Caused by COVID-19 — Not Just Healthcare
COVID has been one of the most complicated global crises since WWII, said President Duque.
“It is definitely a healthcare crisis, but at the same time, it constitutes an economic crisis,” he continued. “It constitutes an unemployment crisis. It constitutes a social crisis. It’s a multi-dimensional situation.”
Colombia decided to respond to these crises by addressing the pressure on the healthcare system, protecting those who are most affected by the crisis, and generating more jobs to reduce unemployment.
“There is a clear [link] between unemployment and poverty,” he added. “If we get to recover formal jobs, I think that will have an impact. … As we start getting back to normality in the education system … I think that is also going to trigger the possibility that more women are going to look for jobs.”
This is because fewer women will have to be home with their kids as they self-educate due to the education system going virtual. However, he noted, they need help making more jobs available for their people.
“We are actually thinking of a policy where we can subsidize social security if [we] hire young people between 18 and 28 for the first five years, and if we do the same with women who have lost their jobs during the pandemic,” Duque said.
The U.S. Can Help Colombia Recover From the Pandemic in Numerous Ways
“The most important thing that can be done post-pandemic… is to nearshore operations from around the world to the Americas,” Duque said. “I think the United States can really help us to have a larger stock of vaccines in the next two months.”
With more access to vaccines, Colombia will be able to accelerate its vaccination process and reach normality sooner than anticipated — a shared end goal for all countries across the world.
However, this isn’t the only initiative he’s calling for from the U.S.
“I think it would be interesting… for the United States through DFC to mobilize investment and be able to use financial products such as guarantees for companies to issue debt with the possibility of having longer-term and better rates,” Duque added.
We Must Separate Politics From Global Economic Recovery
“We’re living in moments of international politics that are highly polarized,” he said. “We have seen this around the world.”
He noted that COVID-19 has caused even more of a division within various societies, but it’s important we move on from those problems in order to help each other recover.
“The challenge is it’s going to be more complicated within a political cycle because people… will like to take advantage of whatever they can to win elections,” Duque said. “So I think we have to separate those things.”