Business executives traveling to Colombia will be happy to hear that the Andean nation has outshone its neighbors in a recent survey on safety in the region.
The Latin American Business Chronicle (LBC) released a report Monday showing the safety rankings for countries in Latin America as they relate to executives interested in doing business in the region.
Colombia sits 11th among 19 countries, topping countries like Mexico and Brazil that have larger economies.
“Because security has improved there is a dramatic increase in foreign companies that want to do business in Colombia,” Joachim Bamrud, the Executive Editor of the Latin Trade Group, told Colombia Reports.
“The trend over the last few years has been the same ever since [former President Alvaro] Uribe, which is that the security has been improving. For a lot of companies, the cost of doing business in Colombia has gone down because they don’t suffer costs from attacks,” said Bamrud.
However, Bamrud does not want to lead executives to the conclusion that Colombia is without its dangers.
“Although Colombia has made improvements under Uribe … that doesn’t mean that there aren’t risks. Foreign executives that travel to Colombia still have to take basic precautions. It’s important to do your homework. Talk with authorities and business professionals,” warned Bamrud.
The LBC report is based on information gathered by FTI consulting company. It credits Colombia with making significant advances against the FARC though recognizes there is still significant FARC related violence, particularly on the border with Venezuela, a neighbor that has seen an increase in drug trafficking, kidnapping and organized crime and was ranked as the 2nd most dangerous country in Latin America on LBC’s list.
Head of FTI Latin America, Frank Holder, mentioned in the report that Colombian kidnappers who have been pressured by the security policies of the Uribe administration, now seem to have moved to Venezuela.
As well as warnings against continued, though diminished, FARC activity, the report highlights violence in big cities such as Bogota and Medellin. Homicide rates remain high in both cities and increases in kidnapping and extortion can also be seen in the oil and mining industries — an area in which illegal armed groups are increasingly taking an interest.
The appearance of smaller neo-paramilitary and drug gangs after the dismantling of the AUC is also mentioned in the report as a risk to Colombian stability. However the report refers to this activity as being isolated to rural areas where government control is “spotty.”
With the influx of foreign investment increasing, Joachim Bamrud says some companies are “still catching up.” “Labor force, location, regulations and laws that are favorable to business make Colombia more attractive,” said the expert.
According to the report, The Latin Security Index takes into account how each country in the region is doing related to public insecurity, with a special focus on the business community. Apart from polling its business contacts in the region related to issues affecting their security, FTI analyzes government statistics at the federal, state or province, and municipal levels in areas such as homicides, serious crime, cargo theft, home invasions, kidnapping, political and labor unrest, riots and violent demonstrations and drug trafficking, as well as the efficacy of government programs put into place to combat these problems.