How would you evaluate the evolution of the business environment in Bogotá over the past year?
Bogotá maintains an excellent business environment. Our agency has been named for the third consecutive year one of the best investment agencies in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is already a sign of this excellent business environment. Bogotá is in the Latin American ranking as the fifth (Miami is ranked first) most attractive economy to do business, according to America Economia. Bogotá is an attractive city to invest, although there is a small economic slowdown, and the Colombian economy is still one of the fastest growing in Latin America. Bogotá continues to be a city with one of the highest economic growth rates in Latin America. We are reaching a turning point and believe that 2018 will be better since the peace negotiations in Colombia will begin to bear the fruits of economic growth and stability. The company has also been awarded Best Project in Latin America and the Caribbean region at the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) in Dubai.
Which sectors are currently the most attractive for investors?
Sectors such as medical devices, consumer products, pharmaceuticals, software & IT, and building materials are still protagonists of the investment, but perhaps it is worth mentioning the service sector. Approximately 62% of Bogotá's GDP is generated by the service industry. Right now, we are promoting a sector that has to do with the creative industries, which is already giving its first results. Incursion in this sector is a great bet, and we have already had achievements; for example, HBO has already entered Colombia to carry out cinematographic and television production work. In addition to others that have already entered the market in Bogotá, such as FOX and some Spanish companies. We have also incorporated the health services sector; a large Chilean company has entered the market here in Bogotá. It offers telemedicine services. We are optimistic for the development of infrastructure projects for the city to continue improving our competitiveness such as the Bogotá Metro, improvements to Bogotá airport, a wastewater treatment plant, airport-city tram, public hospitals, cycle paths, public parks, and more. For all these projects, foreign investment is also contemplated given that they are public-private partnerships (PPPs).
How has your Strategic Plan 2017-2020 evolved since we spoke last year?
From our beginnings, we have supported more than 290 FDI projects in our city, and more than 32,000 employments have been generated thanks by these new companies. In 2018, we expect to get 40 new projects including new interesting sectors as, creative industries, infrastructure for city projects, biotechnology, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, professional services, construction materials, and processed food sector.
What is the main challenge for a company that wants to invest in Bogotá?
The most difficult thing for companies is to first identify business opportunities, and it is there where we help as well. There are few companies that do not invest in Bogotá after our advice. Most companies continue the investment process and less than 5% end up not investing; that is the statistic we have maintained over the last 11 years. The subsequent challenge is to grow in the national and international market, that is, to use Bogotá as an export platform, and our challenge is always to look for companies that generate the greatest added value to the city and that generate more and higher quality jobs and finally, that take advantage of the export platform offered by the city. These are our three main challenges to attract investment. We are proactive, we go out looking for companies, and we do not wait for companies to come looking for us. We do more than 30 promotion campaigns and attraction of investments in Bogotá, of which more than 20 are abroad.
Bogotá is estimated to grow above the expected 2-2.5% national growth in the coming years. What are your prospects in this regard?
We have a strategy that has several components; the first thing is to bring new investors to the city. Generate impact projects in the sectors where we are interested, and that, I insist, include added value, quality employment, innovation and that such projects use Bogotá as an export platform. This strategy also includes attracting anchor companies that is, bringing companies that attract other companies based on the principle of productive chain. We also identify the companies that have already invested in Bogotá, and that want to re-invest, which are currently around 1,600 companies. We have two new challenges for 2018, one of them has to do with capital funds to facilitate technological investments, and the other is how to generate growth opportunities for foreign companies.