Colombia – Latin America’s Economic PowerhouseAngie Godinez
The London Telegraph recently carried a story highlighting Colombia’s transformation from the shadow of the drug lords of thirty years ago to Latin America’s fastest growing economy today.
The article noted Colombia’s well-educated work force and a strong business class as major factors driving the growth. The statistics bear this out – Colombia’s economy grew a healthy 4.8% last year and is expected to duplicate that level of growth this year. The country’s central bank has also been able to keep inflation in check – around the target rate of 3%.
The country’s political stability and economic certainty have helped push Colombia up to 34th place in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” index last year, from 53rd place in 2013. This is above larger economies such as Brazil and Mexico – and above European economies such as Belgium and Italy.
Free trade agreements have been pursued aggressively. The country has secured a dozen deals around the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom through the European Union, and Switzerland. Ken Clarke, the UK’s former chancellor and justice minister, upon leading a trade delegation to Colombia, noted that the country is “very much open for business”. Other business leaders have noted that “Colombia is a big stepping stone to both North American and South America”.
The attractiveness of doing business in Colombia was summed up by Jose Antonio Bonache, corporate director of international beverage giant Diageo who said “the people are the best thing about doing business in Colombia. The change and direction the country is moving in and the change that the country is looking for represent a good opportunity for everyone”.