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Colombia’s Minister of Commerce: Our Country Welcomes Saudi Investments | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Venezuelan citizens buy goods at the local supermarket to take advantage of the temporary border opening in Cucuta, Colombia, July 10, 2016. REUTERS/Manuel Hernandez

Bogotá- Thanks to the historical agreement between the Colombian government and the rebels, a 50 years old conflict reached an end. This contributed in introducing Colombia to a new economic phase which will result in a tangible economic development and increased foreign investments. Therefore, this will reinforce Colombia’ role in Latin America.

Maria Claudia Lacouture, Colombia’s minister of commerce, industry and tourism, said that the Colombian industry is expected to grow 20% and the exports are forecast to increase 12%, during an interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

“After the peace agreement, what opportunities do the businessmen have?” asked Asharq al-Awsat.

Lacouture replied that, “Colombia provides high protection for local and foreign capitals and this makes it an attractive market and destination. The government expects industry to grow up 20% after signing the peace agreement. This will help Colombia benefit the most from its potentials and will increase agricultural and industrial production to fulfill the consumers’ demand. Moreover, the recently adopted production development policies will increase the ability to compete and grow and will also push exports. On the regional level, tourism that is one of the most benefiting sectors is expected to grow 30%.”

“Which sectors are expected to receive the highest portion of investments in Colombia?” asked the newspaper.

“Foreign capitals can be directed to various sectors for the purpose of investing. Colombia is considered a country that attracts foreign investments in the region. Between 2010 and 2015 up to 722 multinational companies settled there and commenced operations reaching investments worth USD25.5 billion, as revealed by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Colombia occupies the fourth place among the foreign investment attracting economies following Brazil, Mexico and Chile,” replied the minister of commerce.

“What makes Colombia stand out among Latin America countries?” asked Asharq al-Awsat.

Lacouture said, “The Colombian economy is one of the most stable economies in Latin America in which we provide safe environment, clear regulations and transparent legal frameworks with regards to dealing with foreign capitals.” He continued that, “Despite the tough conditions of the world economy in the first half of the current year, Colombia was able to grow 2.3% higher than any other Latin America country.”

Asharq al-Awsat asked about the required steps to invest in Colombia and Lacouture answered as follows, “ProColombia is the agent entrusted with encouraging international investments in the country and it provides beneficial and comprehensive tips on investments for local and foreign businessmen. Through the website “Invest in Colombia”, investors can get sufficient information on various sectors as well as investment potentials in the country. We can say that Colombia welcomes foreign investments.”

“Is Colombia interested in increasing commercial cooperation with Saudi Arabia?” asked the newspaper.

The minister replied, “Saudi Arabia is on top of the countries which we aim at selling products to. As for investments, Saudi Arabia is a rich country that enjoys huge potentials and an ability to surge capitals to the Colombian market to invest in various sectors such as infrastructure, tourism and transformational industry.”

Asharq al-Awsat asked about the commerce relations between Colombia and the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia. The Colombian minister of commerce replied, “Colombia exports to Saudi Arabia increased up to 170% between 2010 and 2015…Colombia sold products worth USD2.6 million to the Saudi market in 2010… As for the trade with the United Arab Emirates, it reached USD23.1 million in 2015. Among the products sold by Colombia to UAE are: gold, flowers, coffee, fruits and gems.”