Colombia 2017 | ECONOMY | B2B

Bogotá and Cartagena are two of Colombia's most dynamic cities, with plenty of their own strengths and challenges.

What are the city's biggest strengths?

Juan Gabriel Pérez One of Bogotá's biggest strengths, and what makes us competitive, is its GDP and powerful economy. Invest in Bogotá not only represents Bogotá, but the entire metropolitan area, which includes 22 municipalities that interact with the city in a daily symbiotic relationship. In this case, what Invest in Bogotá has done is strengthen its proposal, looking for businesses that are competitive and generate jobs and economic development. The size of our economy is one of the most important factors to highlight; Bogotá represents one-fourth of Colombia's economy, but if we look at the Bogotá Metro Area, it represents approximately one-third of the country's GDP. In addition, Bogotá is a city where the middle class has emerged and today constitutes 50% of the city's population. With the size of its economy, Bogotá has an economical potential equal or higher than some Latin American countries such as Ecuador, Costa Rica, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Bogotá is a city with an interesting dynamic; in the last 10 years the city has been growing and is expected to grow above the expected 2-2.5% national growth rate, helping pull up the national economy, which struggles due to its mining-energetic dependency. This robust economy makes us attractive, and various international rankings see Bogotá as one of the most attractive cities to invest in in Latin America. When Invest in Bogotá started 10 years ago, América Economía placed us in 16th; today we are fourth. Currently, the city is among the favorite destinations for investors, and Colombia is the second-highest growing economy in Latin America after Peru. Up until now, Invest in Bogotá has supported more than 260 investment projects throughout the city and was the first regional agency created specifically to bring FDI to Colombia. In the next four years, through our Strategic Plan 2017-2020, we expect to identify more companies that will use Bogotá as an export platform, identify the anchor companies that are transforming the city, maintain and increase current investment, and support an additional 160 investment projects throughout the city. A decade ago, there were a little more than 500 companies with foreign investment capital in Bogotá; today there are more than 1,600.

María Camila Salas Cartagena is well known for being the top tourism destination of Colombia, but similar to what we show investors in national and international locations, we are more than just tourism. Cartagena is also one of the most important industrial cities in the country, not to mention its logistics platform. We manage more than 60% of the container cargo entering the country and our strategy has been a strong focus on PPPs to show all the benefits of our strategic location for international companies to locate here. This enables them to access every Caribbean and Latin American market. What is more, our airline connectivity is growing quickly, which is also important for tourism and business. Our strategy has been to focus on strategic markets in strategic sectors where we are strong and can offer a competitiveness different from other regions in the country. The petrochemical, logistics, and metal sectors are part of this focus. We also focus on renewable energies; it is a sector we are just getting started in but will be important for Cartagena and the Caribbean. We are also working to promote Cartagena as the hub for country's growing offshore industry. Due to its benefits from a bay that remains open year-long, ships entering Cartagena that require repairs have access to the most important companies and services in the industry. This is precisely where Cartagena is working with the public and private sectors to focus on promoting the city as a hub in the region.

What impact will the Tax Reform and post-conflict era have on Bogotá?

JGP Colombia is currently looking to be part of the OECD and this requires it to follow better and improved practices such as fiscal discipline. This is why the tax reform is a 'necessary evil' that will generate rules of play, which in many cases will be good. Even though it will affect many existing businesses, it will also incentivize new businesses looking to invest in Bogotá and level the playing field in these two scenarios. In regard to the post-conflict era, it will be a great opportunity for many foreign companies that did not have Colombia in mind, since factors such as violence will be highly reduced. This will help agencies such as Invest in Bogotá promote the country and look for companies interested in investing here.

What is your long-term vision for Cartagena?

MCS Cartagena is a logistics and distribution center for every company in Latin America, so we are focusing on making Cartagena the hub and logistics platform for all of Colombia.