In a televised address Friday evening, President Juan Manuel Santos announced that Colombia has joined the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as well as invited to become a “global partner” of North Atlantic North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Colombia becomes the 37th OECD member nation and third in Latin America alongside Mexico and Chile. Santos remarked that it took seven years of technical studies and consideration in order for the country to be admitted into the organization that monitors public governance and economic prosperity. Santos and the OECD’s Secretary-General Angel Gurria will sign the accession agreement on May 30 during the OECD’s ministerial meeting in Paris.

The United States recognized Colombia’s efforts in recent years toward good public policy, expanding welfare programs, education and bringing peace to the country after a half-century long internal conflict. The U.S. had raised concerns that the South American nation needed to do more, however, in combating corruption and protecting intellectual copyright.

“This is very, very important, news for our country,” said Santos. “Being part of the OECD is going to be of great benefit for Colombia to continue advancing, continue reducing poverty, to guarantee a more just, more inclusive, more sustainable development.” He then compared the accession process as “joining the big leagues,” in which Colombia will be “measured, compared and evaluated with the best, in order to also be the best.”

OECD member states include Austria, Spain, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, United Kingdom, United States, Israel, Italy and Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, among others.

In his announcement hours before millions of Colombians vote Sunday in their first post-conflict elections, Santos remarked the country will become a “partner across the globe” in NATO, and the only one from Latin America. “Being part of OECD and NATO improves the image of Colombia and allows us to have much more play on the international stage,” remarked Santos.

Colombia’s entry in NATO will be formalized next week in Brussels.

“Today, we took another very important step towards a better future. It’s like graduating from the best university, but with the commitment to continue studying and maintain good grades for the rest of our lives,” said Santos.