MOVING UP

Colombia 2020 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

The ministry has many programs and incentives lined up in the creative and service industries to improve Colombia's global standing.

José Manuel Restrepo Abondano
BIOGRAPHY

José Manuel Restrepo Abondano studied economics in Universidad del Rosario before completing his master's degree at the London School of Economics. He is a doctoral candidate in management of higher education institutions at the University of Bath. His distinguished career has seen him serve as rector of Universidad del Rosario and CESA.

What role do creative industries play in the Colombian economy today?
A strategy the government seeks to develop is taking advantage of one of the most important assets we have as a country: our human talent. Colombia has the second-youngest population in Latin America, and a great deal of entrepreneurial spirit. President Iván Duque has been developing and encouraging the orange economy, which perfectly matches with the idea of a creative economy. Creative economy includes those economic sectors traditionally related to human talent and culture that now deliver more added value based on creativity and innovation. In Colombia, that represents around 1.8% of our GDP. However, in countries such as the UK and the Netherlands, that participation is close to 10%. Our goal is to move from 1.8% and get close to a 5% contribution to GDP. To reach that level of participation, we need to strengthen our institutions, boost the country's industry, and ensure that we have an inclusive sector that develops and supports inspiration. We want to develop more incentives such as a 0% income tax rate for the next seven years for this sector. We are also extending existing incentives; for example, we will improve the production of not only films, but also television series, videos, and other media related to the creative economy. Today, this sector, which includes music, arts, theater, architecture, design, audiovisual, and games, is becoming a relevant sector for the country's future. It may not be the most important one, but it will be quite relevant and strategic.

What benefits will be created with the Sustainable Trade Program that the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism has agreed with the EU?
The main actor in this process is the Ministry of Culture through the Vice-Ministry of Creativity. Our role is to provide the infrastructure and especially financial access. This is why we issued orange bonds over 2019 to attract investment from around the world from different institutions to have enough money to offer a generous amount of loans for the sector. We issued bonds of almost USD150 million, which are already fully subscribed. The sector is taking advantage of this amount of money and using it for its future. The creative economy is a great opportunity to increase Colombia's export services. Over the last four years, export services from Colombia has reached almost double-digit growth. In March 2020, we launched a new program funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) where we will develop policies, strategies, and tactics to increase service exports, including the orange economy. We are also working with the EU on cooperation methods to develop the creative economy concept.

What is the ministry's position on moving through the process and becoming part of the OECD?
We are committed to the OECD and the internal work that we must get done is mostly about strengthening our institutionality in order to seek a position for Colombia as an active member. Since before being accepted as members of the OECD, we have been working on the necessary internal adjustments to be able to reach the required international standards, which we will undoubtedly continue to improve with our full admission to this exclusive group of countries. It is the scenario in which the country can measure and compare itself with its peers, evaluate its context, and accurately identify the fields where we can improve, promoting public policies that meet high standards and that lead us to improved transparency in every single action we take, a flagship crusade in Colombia. All these efforts probably will result in more equity, more employment, and better quality of life for citizens. Compliance and "vigilance" for these standards creates certainty and predictability for productive sectors, investors, and the work of public officials. The active participation of the country in the OECD will allow for greater work spaces and for solving joint problems with other members, which are currently Colombia's main trading partners. In particular, as a full member of the OECD, you can use your resources and participate in different discussions to constantly evaluate and improve the country's public policies, meet your challenges, and achieve the country's goals more quickly.