The First Colombia-Brazil Investment Forum is taking place today in Bogota, inaugurated by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and former Brazilian President Luis Ignacio Lula Da Silva, local media reported Thursday.
Also in attendance is the president of the Inter American Development Bank, Luis Alberto Moreno, the Bancolombia President Carlos Raul Yepes as well as 500 business leaders and government officials.
The aim of the convention is to analyze business opportunities offered by both countries as the nations are currently experiencing strong economic growth.
Five conferences will take place seeking to deepen understanding of the transport infrastructure, telecommunications, mining and energy, financial services and agribusiness sectors.
The population of Brazil and Colombia is nearly 230 million people accounting for 60% of the population of the whole of South America, providing both countries with huge untapped markets for goods and services.
Although both countries have an Atlantic coast and share a 1,022 mile land border, they are separated by a language barrier and the Amazon jungle.
Bilateral trade between Colombia and Brazil has quadrupled since 2004 to $3 billion annually according to a study by the Inter American Development Bank. However, the figure accounts for only 0.7% of trade of both countries with the rest of the world.
“The lack of physical infrastructure which connects the two countries is an important factor which impedes greater bilateral exchange,” stated the report. Analysts from the Inter American Development said that to export to Brazil, Colombia would have to pay shipping costs equivalent to those paid to sell to Canada and to export to Colombia, Brazil’s costs would also be “very high.”