Once synonymous with drug cartels and jungle guerrillas, Colombia has witnessed something of a transformation in recent years. Now the country’s economy is booming, and with growing peace and prosperity, investment opportunities are ripe in the South American nation.
In fact, in 2011 Colombia’s economic expansion was topped only by its neighbors on the Pacific Rim, Peru and Chile.
“The Colombian market is experiencing a historic moment, with sustained economic growth, high confidence indexes and rising foreign investment,” chief executive of the Ripley supermarket chain in Colombia told El Mercurio.
Now, Chilean investors are at the forefront of this wave of foreign capital.
According to the official figures of the Banco de la República of Colombia, Chile displaced Spain as the number one source of direct foreign investment in the first trimester of 2012, with a record sum of US$367.7 million.
That figure represented a tripling of the amount that Chilean firms invested in their northern neighbor in the period between January and March of last year, and represented 10 percent of the total foreign investment of the Colombian economy for the period.
It also means that, since the 90s, Chilean expenditure in Colombia rose US$9 billion.
That figure is set to continue rising, with a major milestone expected this year when Chile’s CorpBanca is expected to finalize the purchase of Banco Santander Colombia for US$1.2 billion.
For Ignacio Fernández, Trade Commissioner of Chilean government’s business promotion agency, ProChile, in the Colombian capital, Bogotá, the attractiveness of Colombia lies in its market of 46 million people, its major urban centers and the bilateral free trade agreement that the two countries share, which he calls the “most modern we [Chile] have with any South American country.”
According to Fernández, the areas of the Colombian economy which received the most amount of money from Chilean investors were the commercial, financial and industrial sectors.