SEMANA, March 25, 2021
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
During the CEA’s assembly, the United States companies repeated their commitment to continue investing in this country.
Directors of more than a hundred United States companies that do business in Colombian markets, joined in a trade association, the American Companies Council (CEA), committed themselves to maintain and augment their investments in this country and to continue creating jobs. Those were the principal conclusions reached during the association’s annual assembly on Thursday, March 25.
In the framework of the event, which took place in the Presidential Palace and included the virtual participation of United States Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg, the business owners agreed on an optimistic message about the future of this country, and they expressed to President Iván Duque their complete support for his political, economic, and social stewardship during his administration. And especially, for his management of the pandemic.
With the President of the CEA, Ricardo Triana, and the President of the Board of Directors, Eduardo Jaramillo (President of General Electric in Colombia) as spokesmen, they stressed the importance that the fiscal security of this country has for the U.S. companies, and, in order to maintain the their competitiveness, they repeated the necessity for improvement of logistics and for investment in infrastructure to reduce costs.
They also asked that the adoption of labor laws that make employment more flexible be expedited, and for speeded-up procedures for obtaining licenses that the companies interested in operating or investing in Colombia are required to have.
But the Colombian government also had its own petition: tell the United States Congress “clearly and impartially”, about the progress Colombia has made in the area of Peace with Legality and the Route to the Future. That was President Iván Duque’s request when he addressed the Assembly.
For the President, it’s really important “that the North American businesses in Colombia be the ones that send the messages to the U.S. Congress, clearly and impartially, about how far the policy of Route to the Future and the policy of Peace with Legality have advanced in our country.”
Referring to the progress with Peace with Legality, he explained that 14 Programs Developed with Territorial Focus (PDET) are being put together already, that the construction of more than a thousand PDET projects is progressing, and that this country is committed to a process of achieving “more land titles in our country”, which has been his principal goal in the development of the Multipurpose Land Registry.
He also referred to growth in the Agriculture by Contract program, designed to transform the countryside, and includes the participation of some United States companies. And with regard to the Route to the Future, the policy designed to confront drug trafficking in every aspect, he stressed that, hand in hand with the United States, there has been important progress in the struggle against this scourge, which he called “our country’s historic enemy”.
Investment Is Being Increased
For the President of the CEA, Ricardo Triana, the best evidence of confidence in the Colombian economy is the increasing investment that United States companies have made in the country in recent years. Even though he referred to the fact that in 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, there was a 36% reduction in investment at the close of the third quarter, he expressed his confidence that in this year the figures would go back to being as they were in 2019.
More than a hundred United States companies that are active in the Colombian market are affiliated with the CEA. They participate in 14 sectors of production and they produce 7.3% of Colombia’s GDP. It’s estimated that between 400 and 500 companies originating in the United States are in Colombia.
But, what are the principal investments being made by these companies in Colombian territory? These are the ones that stand out:
Pepsico. The well-known snack company invested $609 billion pesos (a little over USD $16,600,000) in the plants it owns in Cundinamarca and Antioquia, generating 4,000 new jobs.
Amazon. The company announced the creation of 2,000 new jobs in Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, and Bucaramanga, to strengthen its operation in this country. Amazon has become one of the most promising companies in creation of jobs for young people.
United Health Group. This well-known health business owns, in this continent, Banmédica in Chile, and in Colombia, Colmédica, as well as the Country and La Colina clinics. It has decided to create a BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) focused on health. It has already hired some 1,000 people and it estimates that it will create another 5,000 jobs in the next five years.
AES. Twenty-five years ago this company created its affiliate AES Colombia that has focused on generation of energy at the Chivor Dam. It generates 1,000 megawatts, but in recent years, the company has concentrated on the generation of alternative energies. Right now it’s investing around $3 billion pesos (a little over USD $812,600,000) to develop an energy park in La Guajira for wind energy. This will generate 5,000 jobs during construction, and 1,000 permanent jobs when the park is in operation.