As expected due to all the factors that have affected and converged this year in our economy, foreign investment in the country has decreased by 34.03% according to the Banco de la República. If we review the partial data published by the issuing entity, we find that among the most affected sectors are investments in oil, manufacturing industries, retail trade, restaurants and hotels.
However, despite the reduction, foreign investment should continue to be considered as an important driver of development and the country’s economy, there are sectors that bring strategic investments such as mining, transportation, storage, communications, financial and business services. There are about 48 countries that have invested in the country this year, with Switzerland standing out, followed by Panamá, Spain and the United States. In our region, it is also worth highlighting Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Costa Rica and Ecuador. From Europe, in addition to Switzerland and Spain we have the Netherlands, England, France, Luxembourg. On the Asian side, Singapore stands out, although it can be said that this part of the world is neglected considering its relevance to the current economic panorama.
Procolombia, an entity that among other things is in charge of promoting foreign investment in the country, points out that during the first quarter of this year 33 new investment projects arrived in Colombia with businesses estimated at 1,595 million dollars and with the projection of creation about 23,400 new jobs.
The promotion of sectors such as BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) stands out, a business model with a very good projection and expansion prospects, taking into account the needs that were generated during the pandemic, for customer service and technological support. As an example, we have the arrival of the Singapore company TDCX, which opens its first operations center in America in Bogotá to offer services to clients in the United States and Latin America.
Another sector to highlight is Software and IT, although I do not know if we can speak in such an optimistic way as President Duque, stating that we are going to become the “Silicon Valley” of the region, the projections are encouraging, taking into It counts as indicated by the same companies in this field that are arriving in the country, due to our strategic geographical location and a workforce that is preparing better every day.
Invest in Pacific, the entity in charge of establishing investment in Valle del Cauca, points out that companies dedicated to technological and software development such as the multinational Argentina Globant and the European companies Endava and Endrock are arriving in the region.
In the same way, the American TaskUs arrived in Valle del Cauca, a multinational company that offers digital CX solutions, artificial intelligence operations and content security to the most innovative companies in the world.
For its part, the Chinese multinational Whale Cloud, a partner of the electronic commerce giant Alibaba, arrived in Bogotá. The company has 19 offices around the world and provides software solutions and professional consulting services for the telecommunications industry.
Another of the new lines that are projected very well in the country due to foreign investment is audiovisual production. The opening of the Netflix office in Colombia and the start of filming 30 series and movies for this platform is already underway. The Canadian firm Folks, developer of visual effects for productions of Netflix, HBO, CBS and Amazon Studios also arrives.
This field is an example of the great possibilities of economic boost that foreign investment can bring to territories and populations of the country to which investment and development generally do not reach. An example of this is what happened with the filming of the film Memoria, which is currently on display at the Cannes festival and which was being shot in the municipality of Pijao in Quindío, boosting the economy of this population.
As well as the audiovisual industry, in the country there are many other creative activities that can be very attractive for foreign investment, which makes us think that the so-called orange economy can be a reality.
To these initiatives is also added the arrival of the Argentine news portal Infobae, one of the most widely read in the world and which is emerging as a very strong competitor in the information sector in the country.
There are also new business ideas, as is the case of the Brazilian private flight rental company Flapper, with 5 years of operation in the market and with the intention of making Colombia its main hub in Latin America.
In the same way, projects related to agribusiness continue to attract investment, companies such as the Peruvian Danper with Hass avocado crops, the British Shelton’s Coffee, which opens its production plant in Bogotá using 100% Colombian coffee, enter the country. In addition, mining projects continue, now looking for alternative minerals to coal, such as copper. It is important to emphasize in the two sectors that we have just mentioned, agribusiness and mining, to be very careful with the impacts generated and to take care that these are developed while maintaining a balance with the environment and with the communities where they are developed. In this vein, the development of clean energies such as solar or wind should be accelerated and prioritized.
To summarize, Colombia is a country with many competitive and strategic advantages that make it very attractive for foreign investment. According to ECLAC information, we are the third country that receives the highest foreign investment in Latin America, in addition, according to Invest in Bogotá, the capital of the country, is considered the second Latin American city that attracts the most investment according to the regional ranking of Fdi Intelligence, from the ‘Financial Times’, for this reason, we need to continue strengthening all our capacities, we must strengthen our communication routes , our connectivity and it is necessary to allow our young people access to quality higher education, especially in areas such as technology. In this sense, it is absurd that we do not have an ambitious bilingualism plan in the country. If we do not take this step, we could possibly lose the opportunity to be one of the business and development centers in the region. Likewise, we need to strengthen trade relations with key players in the current world economic dynamics such as China and India. We have what is needed, the country has great work capacity, the world has an interest in us, we must seize this moment.
Fernando Merchán Ramos
Director of the NGO Adelante Colombia
Managing Partner of the consulting firm López & James
July 22, 2021