Portugal’s prime minister, Pedro Passos Coehlo, travelled to Colombia over the weekend in pursuit of deeper economic ties between the two countries.
On Saturday, the prime minister, along with President Juan Manuel Santos and various ministers of his administration, met with over 60 Portuguese business leaders in Bogota to discuss new investments in Colombia.
Passos Coehlo announced that businesses from various sectors in Portugal found investment within Colombia attractive because of its current economic growth and stable long-term prospects.
“Business involved in infrastructure, the environment, communications and other sectors see promise in Colombia’s current economic growth. They are attracted not only to Colombia’s growth, but additionaly to the confidence it inspires, because there are other economies that develop rapidly but do not inspire the same confidence,” the prime minister stated.
Minister of Business, Industry and Tourism Sergio Diaz-Granados highlighted investments made by food retail chain Jeronimo Martins, who recently announced its decision to invest approximately $397 million in the Colombian market.
The prime minister’s journey came amid grave short and medium-term prospects for both Portugal and Europe. Analysts have shown concerns that Portugal might struggle to meet its deficit goal of 3% of GDP by 2013 that was set under the terms of the European Union and International Monetary Fund bailout.
Colombia, the prime minister stated, presented an attractive foreign investment opportunity for a nation looking to set its monetary house back in order.
There is ample room for Portugese investment in Colombia, as there is currently a large trade deficit between the two nations: between 2001 and 2011, Portugese investment in Colombia totaled $16.4 million, while 2011 was a record year for Colombian exports to the Iberian nation, with an annual growth rate of 106% that resulted in a total of $312 million. Colombian exports were largely fueled by increasing demand in thermal coal.
Coehlo recognized the trade deficit between the two countries, but affirmed that there existed tools to correct the issue and saw Portugal’s low levels of investment and trade as proof of future growth opportunities. Economic and commerical relations between Portugal and Colombia are “manifestly insufficient if we detect the potential effects of a bilateral alliance,” claimed the prime minister.