Spanish businesses have responded positively to President Juan Manuel Santos’ “desperate” call for investors in his ambitious infrastructure development plan for Colombia, local media reported Tuesday.
“We have special interest in the development plan for Colombia from 2011-2014, with an expected investment of $300 billion dollars and we want to be involved,” said Juan Rosell, president of Spanish business group CEOE.
The response came after Santos declared he that is “desperately seeking Spanish investment” for his development plan, particularly in infrastructure.
President Santos presented Colombia as a perfect investment opportunity because it is a “boring” and “predictable” country where the rules of the game don’t change. He added that there are opportunities for investment in the housing, infrastructure and energy sector.
Colombia is a country “rich in energy,” Santos said, as it has oil, it is the second largest exporter of coal in the world and the third richest country in water. This means that Colombia is now “interested in developing solar and wind energy, areas which Spain has experience,” announced Santos at the New Economy Forum in Madrid on Tuesday.
“Colombia needs Spanish technology, its investment and important works, and you require, with the difficulties that Spain and Europe are suffering, business opportunities,” Santos said in reference to the economic crisis that damaged the Spanish economy.
Business leaders asked Santos to avoid any legal changes that could complicate investment opportunities in Colombia with Rosell specifically requesting the avoidance of modifications to the energy sector that could affect future Spanish investment and a “short-term solution” to introduce a new form of participation in public works contracts.
Spain is already Colombia’s second biggest investor after the U.S., however in terms of bilateral trade the relationship is “limited” to around $578 million worth of sales in each country annually.
The meeting wrapped up the president’s two-day visit to Spain. He will now head to Germany to meet with President Christian Wulff and Chancellor Angela Merkel.