Colombia is a diverse, dynamic and a country full of opportunities. As the country signed the peace agreement in 2016, it is expected to attract higher foreign investment, trade and tourism.
By: Felipe Jaramillo, President of ProColombia
Published in Amcham Colombia Business Express, available here
The trust generated by the country’s macroeconomic performance, the increasing employment rate and the implementation of the peace agreement, among other geographic, natural and social factors, such as its geostrategic location, biodiversity and human resources, makes Colombia a key country for the expansion plans of American companies.
The United States is the most important business partner for Colombia, with a cumulative amount of USD 15,472 million between 2010 and 2016, in terms of foreign direct investment, according to data from the Central Bank of Colombia. It is also the main destination of Colombian exports with 31% of total sales abroad. The United States is the largest emitter of travelers to Colombia; about 2’000.000 American visitors have selected our country in the last five years.
The increasing and dynamic trade exchange between the two countries is supported by a long political, economic and commercial relationship backed with the signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that allows a direct, permanent and stable business scenario. Moreover, Presidents Donald Trump and Juan Manuel Santos have recently expressed their willingness to continue cooperating on important issues for both countries including the construction of peace and the strength of bilateral trade. With the FTA in place since 2012, famous firms have invested in Colombia, including Victoria’s Secret, Forever 21, Sanford Group, Johnny Rockets, Keller Williams, Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, MWH Global, General Motors, Dow Chemical Company, GAP and Rep Grey.
According to recent reports made by the United States Embassy in Bogotá, more than 250 American companies operate in the Colombia, including multinational organizations such as IBM, Citibank, ExxonMobil, General Motors, P&G, Hilton, 3M, Brinks, Cisco, DuPont, EY, General Electric, PWC, Pfi zer and PepsiCo. These companies play an important role in the Colombian society to boost business plans and programs in Colombia, but most importantly to engage local governments, private sector and communities in building peace projects. It is widely known that Colombia is going through one of the most important moments in its history as the peace agreement was signed in November 2016 and it is expected that the transition to a stable and durable environment will report important dividends for the country and its regions. Nowadays, the country is recovering important lands that were controlled by the guerilla groups which mean that there are big business opportunities in sectors like agriculture, infrastructure, public utilities, financial and business services, manufacturing, construction, and hotel and catering, among others.
However, agriculture unveils great opportunities for new investments in 11 regions that, due to the country’s past confl icts, are only just starting their integration process with the rest of the country. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, there are more than 4 million hectares suitable for agricultural activity in economic sectors like cereals, oleaginous plants, soybean, fruits, vegetables, forestry and livestock farming. Therefore, it is expected that this sector will receive a major part of the international investment because of its great potential for economic growth. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Colombia is one of the five countries known as a world food larder because of its location, land and availability of natural resources. In response, Colombia has released the “Colombia Siembra” program that aims to increase food production, develop agricultural businesses, strengthen the technological development of rural areas, and boost the sector from 2.3% in 2014 to 6.2% by 2018. As a result, the long lasting relationship between the United States and Colombia could encourage new business opportunities for companies from both countries.
Moreover, PROCOLOMBIA found that another activity with great potential is Research and Development (R+I) since Colombia is considered one of the megadiverse countries in terms of its richness in fauna and flora, but also different kind of ecosystems and habitants. These ample resources and possibilities represent an appropriate scenario for cosmetics, medicines, medical devices and tourism. The good news is that this is a segment under construction so there are plenty of opportunities to improve these sectors in our country. There are also business opportunities in services, manufacturing, technology, renewable energy, logistics and tourism sectors making Colombia an ideal location to establish new businesses and expand your markets. Therefore, we invite you choose Colombia for your next investment.
For more information, please go to http://www.procolombia.co
Overall business conditions
• Colombia is a country with a high availability of skilled labor in the region, which is an important issue for business development and growth; therefore, the country has the capability to provide and export supplies, goods and services to more than 1,500 million consumers worldwide.
• Some of the business platforms are located in Free Trade Zones (FTZ) all over the country and they include tax incentives for international investors.
• Thanks to the effective trade agreements, the country is able to provide legal stability, which combined with positive economic incentives has attracted companies and investors from all over the world.
• Colombia also offers a competitive domestic market of 48 million citizens listed as the third most populated country in Latin America.
• Colombia is connected to the main business centers of the Americas and Europe with more than 1,050 international flight connections a week. The country is one of the 30 destinations that receive the higher foreign direct investment according to the UNCTAD, and it was recognized as a tourism and business location by prestigious international publications such as The Economist, Forbes, Le Monde, Le Figaro, The Telegraph, Lonely Planet, Condé Nast Traveler and CNN.