BOGOTA – Colombia will target Asian countries to promote exports, investments and tourism in 2020.
Flavia Santoro, president of ProColombia, a government agency in charge of promoting non-traditional exports, international tourism and foreign investment, said the Latin American country will try to expand trade agreements with countries such as China, Japan and South Korea.
She said in an interview with Efe that they will rely on current trade agreements, which she described as a “great opportunity.”
“Asia is a market in which we are seeing how our presence is increasingly relevant, how there is more interest from them,” she added.
“The Bogota metro (whose construction was awarded to a Chinese consortium) is a reliable example of that, so I think those are the markets in which we will continue working.”
She said that next year they will work with other government entities to “take advantage of these new markets,” where they see opportunities to expand the country’s economy.
They will join a list of new business opportunities in which the United Arab Emirates is also participating with Expodubai 2020, a fair that will be attended by delegations from 190 countries and will bring together 25 million visitors.
“Next year we have a wonderful country opportunity that is Expodubai 2020, where we will participate and we will be present with our investment opportunities, with our export opportunities and our tourism opportunities,” Santoro said.
She gave as an example the arrival of the Japanese SoftBank group in the country after an investment of $1 billion in the Rappi home delivery venture, which operates in Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.
The project was one of the entity’s biggest bets on investment for the year and joined eight other key programs and 209 initiatives that have generated 77,636 jobs across the country.
She said Colombia has made the first round of business in the Asian continent in Shanghai, which ended with sales and business intentions of $44.7 million.
“I think it was very successful in terms of the fact that more than 109 buyers saw the products of Colombia, more than 1,000 business appointments were made and some specific businesses were closed,” she added.
During the year, Colombia received investments totalling of $10.8 billion, of which 80 percent was promoted by ProColombia, which she said “ratifies the confidence” businesses have in the country.
Santoro said that among the products exported thanks to the “use of trade agreements” Colombia is still on track to diversify its offer and markets, as happened with China, where the country sends food such as bananas and avocado.
“The news that we sell bananas to South Korea I think is also market diversification, but we continue to work because in terms of exports Colombia has a great opportunity to diversify that offer,” she added.
As in the investment branch, exports registered a growth when achieving external sales for $4.6 billion between January and December, which exceeded the goal for the year of $4.4 billion.
Santoro noted that during that period 2,826 companies that operate in 25 of the 32 departments of the country exported, whose products reached 7,112 buyers from 138 nations.
She added that for 2020 the objective is to achieve investments of $6.25 billion and exports of $5.1 billion.
Between January and October the country received almost 3.5 million foreign non-resident visitors, representing 77 percent of the goal fulfillment for the year that was set at 4.5 million people.
To continue on this path, ProColombia aims to boost cultural, meetings and nature tourism in 2020, with a plan to increase the number of foreign visitors to 4.9 million.
“We have a concrete strategy with the cruise ships and we continue working on Colombia being perceived as a destination of nature and culture, we have all the possible festivals to show as well as a meeting tourism destination,” Santoro concluded.