Colombia’s President-elect Juan Manuel Santos promised the energy sector on Friday a smooth transition and continued security to capitalize on a commodities boom in Latin America’s No. 4 crude producer.
“As with what happened under the Uribe administration, ours will be a friendly government toward investment and we’re going to make our policy friendly, clear and stable with rules of the game where everyone feels comfortable,” he said.
“We know that, more than resources, what attracts foreign investment is trust … and we will be working hard to increase that trust everyday.”
Colombia drew investment pledges of more than $1 billion on Tuesday from energy companies bidding at an auction of more than 200 oil blocks in the Andean nation.
Investment in the country’s oil and mining sectors has nearly quintupled since Uribe took power in 2002 and launched a U.S.-backed campaign to drive guerrillas out of resource-rich regions that had long been off-limits to explorers.
Santos’ victory was a big endorsement of Uribe’s popular security and pro-business policies, and the president-elect said he would continue to work to make the country safer.
“Our policy is not to let our guard down until every last centimeter of Colombia is under complete control,” he said. “There will be no more pressure or threats from illegal groups,” he added, referring to Colombia’s rebels.
In Cartagena on Friday, he said the country had undergone a remarkable transition from a state that used to be notorious for drug trafficking, kidnappings and bombings.
Santos, who saw the nation through a 1990s fiscal crisis, has vowed to bring down double-digit unemployment, reduce the deficit by promoting growth, overhaul a costly public health system and better manage booming oil revenue.
The ex-defense minister said he could finish the rebels once and for all. But, he said, security gains in recent years meant investors would now look for other guarantees.
“You can also win trust with a different type of security, with legal security and stability in the rules of the game,” he said. “Now investors in Colombia put legal security ahead of physical security, and that is very meaningful.” (Reuters)