Monday, August 9, 2010

The Colombian Growth Story: From Rampant Violence To Investments

As allegedly reported by the media and with a common perception of being a nation of rich in drug peddling, abductions and murders, the Republic of Colombia has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past decade. Colombia has been fighting to prove that it is a safe and worthwhile investment destination and has now put itself firmly back onto the investment map. Transforming itself from the Drug capital of the world to a nation attracting strong foreign investment in recent years, Colombia's strong fundamentals stand out. Not only has Colombia been recognized as one of the best pro-business reformers globally in recent years by the World Bank, the country's $130 billion economy, a world leader in the production of coffee, petroleum, textiles, and flowers, is growing at 6.8% a year, two full points faster than the Latin American average. Colombian economy has experienced tremendous growth, benefiting from a commodity boom and sound policies that stimulated growth. The Colombian economy is arguably the largest in Latin America after Brazil, Mexico and the forever in transit economy of Argentina, with one of the largest deposits of oil and natural gas deposits in Latin America.

The lush green tropical jungle country of Colombia has one of the largest deposits of green gem emerald mostly exported to jewelry producing nations. Named after Christopher Columbus by the South American liberator Simon Bolivar, the modern day Colombia continues to be a dark spot on their investment horizon or some investors. Even though, the country's notorious past acts as a speed breaker preventing foreigners from investing in this Latin American nation, the fact is that every indicator of violence in Colombia including homicides, kidnappings, and acts of terrorism have declined significantly over the past eight years.

• Terrorist acts are down 84% from 2002.
• Homicides have dropped 45 percent from 2002 through 2009 – the lowest homicide rate in 22 years.
• Kidnappings have dropped significantly, down 88% from 2002, also now at the lowest rate in 22 years.
• Today Colombia has a lower violent crime rate than many major U.S. cities.

Far from being a dangerous place to even visit, leave alone considering any thoughts of investment, Colombia is slowly but surely transforming itself into a Latin American success story with its free-market approach to its economy.

  • According to Bloomberg data, Colombia is forecast to attract about $10 billion in foreign direct investment this year, up from about $7.5 billion last year.
  • Colombia's stock market has increased 14-fold since 2001 with a still modest total capitalization of $59 billion.
  • Colombia is seen as a trustworthy ally by the United States amid its deteriorating ties with Venezuela and Ecuador. The U.S. has sent $5 billion in aid to Colombia since the year 2000 making it the 4th largest financial aid recipient of the U.S.
  • In the past 10 years, Colombia has slashed its inflation rate from 18% to 5%, and since President Alvaro Uribe was elected in 2002, unemployment has dipped from 16% to 13%.
  • Not only has Columbia been the best performing stock market this year, posting a double digit gain as opposed to all major markets that are down for the year, Colombia has blown away all challengers over the last decade posting an 34.5% annualized return.
  • Colombia has abundant natural resources, including gold, silver, copper, coal, oil, gas, and more, a good deal of which remains under explored. Global gold mining companies are likely to invest as much as 4.5 billion U.S. dollars over the next ten years in Colombia attracted by rich unexplored regions and soaring prices of the commodity.

The Colombian Stock Exchange: The Colombian stock exchange or the Bolsa de Valores de Colombia, also known as Bolsa de Valores (BVC), is the principal stock exchange of Colombia. It was created on July 3, 2001 by the union of three extant stock exchanges in Colombia: Bogota Stock Exchange (Bolsa de Bogota), Medellín Stock Exchange (Bolsa de Medellin)and Cali's Western Stock Exchange (Bolsa de Occidente). The company maintains offices in Bogotá, Medellín and Cali.

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