India’s ambassador to Colombia has said that, after Brazil, Colombia is the most preferred Latin American country to do business with, reflecting the growing economic relationship between the two countries.
Trade between India and Colombia has grown by “leaps and bounds,” India’s Ambassador to Colombia, Riewad Warjri, told Colombia Reports. Bilateral trade totaled roughly $1.3 billion for the two countries in 2012. Additionally, since 2010 roughly 12 companies from the subcontinent have established operations in Colombia, bringing the total number of Indian companies doing business in the Andean country to 36.
“The changing image of Colombia is very positive,” said Warjri. “And according to institutions like the World Bank, JP Morgan, and Goldman Sachs, Colombia is a good country to invest in right now.”
Warjri noted that Colombia’s strategic geographical position coupled with good ports to the Atlantic and Pacific, a pragmatic attitude toward business, the peace talks in Cuba with the rebel group FARC, and President Juan Manuel Santos’ strengthening of relations with neighbors Venezuela and Ecuador, have added to the country’s attractiveness for Indian business.
Most Indian companies have positioned themselves primarily within Colombia’s oil exploration and mining industries, however companies in business process outsourcing (BPO), the automotive sector, and pharmaceuticals are also streaming in.
“Pharmaceuticals are growing in Colombia. The industry looks at this country as a hub,” said the Ambassador.
What India has brought to Colombia is more than just oil and mining development, however. Infosys, an Indian IT consulting and outsourcing company, was hired by Medellín-based Bancolombia to integrate its transaction surveillance system. Now the Colombian bank, which operates internationally in the region, can monitor and interface with all its branches around the clock.
“This means [Bancolombia] can get a 360-degree view of all of [our] clients’ transactions, including high-net-worth clients who use foreign currencies across multiple subsidiaries,” said the bank in a press release.
Genpact, a global leader in BPO, told Spanish news agency EFE that even though the company is based in other Latin American countries, like Mexico and Brazil, it has chosen Colombia for its central location and political stability. Genpact hopes to establish itself in other Colombian cities beyond just the capital, like Medellin.
However, Ambassador Warjri declared that there are still big challenges that Indian companies face in Colombia.
“The main challenge is that transport costs are very high,” explained Warjri. “Unless you promote railways, the costs of transporting goods – especially in sectors like mining – will never come down.”
When Colombia signed a trade agreement with India in 1970, language and distance made for major barriers, according to the Indian ambassador. A lot has changed since the 1970s though, and if recent developments are anything to go by, the economic relationship between the two countries promises to be very bright.
- Interview with India Ambassador Riewald Warjri (India Embassy to Colombia, Ecuador & Costa Rica)
- India y Colombia, un ejemplo de integración entre Asia y Latinoamerica (EFE, Caracol Radio)
- Finacle from Infosys helps Bancolombia transform its banking business (Infosys Press Release)
- Important Indian Companies in Colombia (Embassy of India to Colombia-Ecuador-Costa Rica)