This week, on 21 and 22 May 2018, we attended the first Colombia Investment Roadshow in London, a joint event whose organisers included British & Colombian Chamber of Commerce; the British Embassy in Bogotá; the Department of International Trade teams in Colombia and London; The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Andean Desk and the Prosperity Fund Colombia; The Colombian Embassy in London and Procolombia.
The purposes of the event were to present the key infrastructure projects in Colombia, to explain the investment environment and to support joint initiatives to address some of the challenges that are still experienced in the sector and in the country.
A series of speakers explained the economic backdrop and investment outlook in the country, and provided personal perspectives on experiences of developing projects there. Key projects in rail, rolling stock, Smart Cities, schools, healthcare, waterways, airports and water treatment were described in detail, including explanations of the procurement process and the roles of the main protagonists.
The main points we took from the event were:
- the prospect of imminent accession to the OECD provides evidence of the rigorous process of reforms, policy and regulatory improvements that have been implemented. Between 2010 and 2017 the economy grew an average of 3.8% a year and it has one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment in the region;
- the final peace agreement concluded with FARC in December 2016 brought to an end half a century of armed conflict, and saw the start of a 15 year implementation period;
- improved connectivity and the development of Smart Cities are key to the successful implementation of the peace agreement. A large transport infrastructure initiative has been launched to tackle infrastructure bottlenecks that are holding back development, especially in rural, conflict-affected areas;
- in 2017 the Economist Intelligence Unit singled out Colombia as being well-prepared for infrastructure PPPs in the region. Forms of PPP are being used for the Bogotá Metro, renewal/operation of the Transmilenio BRT system, Cauca road network, El Dorado II Airport and to restore navigability of the Magdalena River. Pilot PPPs are being developed for schools and hospitals in Medellín, Barranquilla and Bogotá.
At Caledonian Economics we look forward to building on existing relationships in Colombia and developing new ones, so that we can play our part in the continuing success of this remarkable country and helping create, as one speaker put it, “a piece of the peace”.