Heads of state from South America's Pacific Alliance, comprised of Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, signed a deal on Monday that will scrap nine-tenths of tariffs on goods and services traded between them.

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The presidents of four nations collectively responsible for half of Latin America's economic output have signed an accord to eliminate tariffs on 92 percent of the products they trade.

 

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Latin America's most open economies signed a free-trade pact on Monday in an effort to firm their ties and raise commerce with Asia, a move that also creates a counterbalance to their colossal neighbor Brazil. The so-called Pacific Alliance between Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile aims to make 92% of the four countries' goods tariff-free, while phasing in the remaining 8% over the coming years. The accord creates a market of some 210 million people, bigger than Brazil's, with a combined economic output equal to 35% of the total GDP of Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

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…Well, now that Argentina has officially devalued its currency, the Colombians are at it again. “I think we have settled the question, even if the difference is small,” Mauricio Cardenas, Colombia’s finance minister, told beyondbrics in a recent interview. Using the latest GDP estimates for each country (from the third quarter of 2013), he reckons Colombian GDP stands at $344bn versus Argentine at $338bn. Goal to Colombia!

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February 5, 2014- News Clips - Utah Industry Leaders Head to Panama, Colombia

Representatives from Utah’s finance, manufacturing, telecommunications and other industries will head to Colombia and Panama on Feb. 10 to kick off a four-day trade mission.

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Coffee production in Colombia, the second-biggest grower of the arabica variety favored by Starbucks Corp., climbed 15 percent in January from a year earlier to the highest level since 2007.

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The European Union reached an accord to eliminate the visa requirement for brief stays by Colombians and Peruvians, the EU delegation in Bogota said Tuesday.

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An attempt to build a stronger British investment presence in Mexico and Colombia will get under way on Monday when more than 40 business leaders accompany Nick Clegg on a trade visit to the two countries.

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Chilean energy company AES Gener SA is looking for purchases in booming Colombia and at home, where it is upbeat about incoming president Michelle Bachelet's plans to spruce up the power sector.

 

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Computer giant Hewlett-Packard this year will bring to Colombia two innovative programs it is marketing worldwide aimed at entrepreneurs and students.

 

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January 29, 2014- News Clips - Colombia

Luis Carlos Villegas became ambassador of Colombia to the United States on Dec. 3, 2013 having most recently served as president of the National Business Association of Colombia (ANDI), a position he held for more than 17 years. In addition, Ambassador Villegas is a member of the Colombian government's negotiating team in the ongoing peace talks with FARC rebels.

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January 28, 2014- News Clips - Juan Valdez's Coffee Journey From Colombia to Kuwait  

Globalization is no news but the way it works sometimes is. Colombian largest producer of Arabica coffee Juan Valdez has recently opened its first store in Kuwait, one of the countries located in the Arabian Peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf –or as it has also been controversially named by some Arab countries, the Arabian Gulf.
 

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… One such example is seen in Medellín, Colombia, where a unique partnership between public utility company Empresas Publicas de Medellín (EPM) and the city has yielded economic opportunities in marginalized neighborhoods, fostered inclusive communities, and attracted international recognition and investment.
 

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January 27, 2014- News Clips - Is Colombia the new Hollywood?

… Colombia is amazingly beautiful and seems specially created by nature to nurture the dreams of filmmakers in search of the one place capable of providing an entire range of gorgeous scenery perfect for creating a magnificent film.

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Oleoducto Central SA, owner of Colombia’s largest pipeline, is planning to sell about $400 million in dollar-denominated bonds this year to finance expansion plans, majority stakeholder Ecopetrol SA (ECOPETL) said.
 

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After a year of efforts from private industry, the Colombian government has decided to include fruit growers in its Program of Productive Transformation (PTP), with the goal of raising seven of the country’s crops to world class export status.
 

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January 24, 2014- Colombia in Focus Newsletters -
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El embajador de Colombia en Estados Unidos, Luis Carlos Villegas, se reunió esta semana con la Junta Editoral del Orlando Sentinel [...] "Somos un país completamente diferente al que se conocía hace 15 años y seguimos avanzando en el buen camino", expresó el embajador ... 

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January 24, 2014- Press Releases - Embajador Villegas se reúne con líderes de la comunidad colombiana, empresarios e inversionistas del estado de Florida   Washington, 24 de enero de 2014. El Embajador de Colombia ante el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos, Luis Carlos Villegas, visitó este 23 y 24 de enero las ciudades de Orlando y Miami con el propósito de dar a conocer las oportunidades en Colombia a inversionistas y empresarios de ese estado. Este viaje es el primero dentro de su plan de visitar a cada una de las 12 ciudades de los Estados Unidos en donde Colombia tiene representación consular con el fin de tener un contacto más directo con las diferentes comunidades colombianas en estas ciudades. Durante su estadía en Orlando, el Embajador participó en un evento organizado por la Cámara de Comercio Hispana de Metro Orlando (HCCMO) al que asistieron alrededor de 80 empresarios y líderes de la comunidad colombiana incluyendo representantes de Suntrust Bank, Entravision, y el Aeropuerto Internacional de Orlando. El Embajador Villegas aprovechó la visita para sostener reuniones con el equipo del Consulado de Colombia en Orlando, la Asociación Colombo-Americana de Médicos (Coamed) y periodistas del Orlando Sentinel. El 24 de enero el Embajador continuó su agenda en la ciudad de Miami, en donde participó en una mesa redonda con altos empresarios afiliados al Consejo de las Américas, además de sostener reuniones con el equipo del Consulado de Colombia en Miami, y periodistas del Miami Herald y National Public Radio (NPR). Durante su visita a Florida, el Embajador Villegas presentó la Nueva Colombia y expuso la transformación del país en materia económica, política y social. Igualmente, tuvo la oportunidad de destacar la agenda progresista del Presidente Juan Manuel Santos y los avances en el proceso de paz que actualmente se adelanta con las FARC.   
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January 24, 2014- News Clips - Ambassador of Colombia in Washington at The Sentinel  

Colombia's ambassador in the United States, Luis Carlos Villegas, met this week with the Editoral Board of the Orlando Sentinel to discuss the economic and social changes that this South American nation has had in the last decade.
 

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Imagine waking up in a Marriott or a Decameron hotel, opening the curtains to a modern city skyline, stepping outside your door for breakfast at Dunkin' Donuts or Juan Valdez, taking a rapid-transit bus to your meeting, grabbing a burger at Johnny Rockets or El Corral, and picking up a new scarf at Gap or Arturo Calle.

This sounds like a typical day for an American business traveler, but this isn't a story about America. This happens every day in today's Colombia. Just a decade ago, few would have believed that Colombia would become one of the most dynamic economies in the world. But, what seemed improbable then is now a reality.

Colombia is the third-largest economy in the region, home to nearly 50 million consumers and a rising middle class with significant economic mobility. With gross-domestic product growth over the past four years estimated at close to 5 percent and the lowest inflation in decades, Colombia — soon to become a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development — has fast become a major regional power.

During the third quarter of 2013, the Colombian economy grew 5.1 percent, fueled by the dynamism of construction and agriculture. The implementation of the largest infrastructure plan in our country's history will increase the potential growth of our economy.

Our economic growth, coupled with a progressive policy agenda, has increased the well-being of our citizens and created a more inclusive society. Health-care coverage is universal, and life expectancy has dramatically moved up. Between 2010 and 2013, Colombia had a significant reduction in poverty rates, lifting around three million citizens to the middle class.

Unemployment has been continuously decreasing during the past 40 months, reaching a record low of 8.5 percent last November. Over the past three years, the Colombian economy has raised the real minimum wage, while creating nearly 2.5 million jobs, expanding a dynamic middle class that offers enormous opportunities for companies around the world.

A simple example illustrates the vibrancy of our market. As a result of rising available income, more than a third of Colombian households own a pet. The pet-care market is estimated to grow at 13 percent per year; according to industry data, the market for pet foods grew from $68 million in 2008 to $400 million in 2013.

Since 2003, foreign direct investment in Colombia has increased sevenfold, and investment responds for about 30 percent of GDP. Our market is increasingly attractive to investors because of our strong adherence to the rule of law and our independent institutions that guarantee a stable macroeconomic environment within a framework of fiscal sustainability.

As a result, leading U.S. companies such as Starbucks, Hyatt Corp., IBM, Google, Facebook, Hewlett-Packard, JW Marriott, Gap and others are investing in our country. Colombian investment abroad is also growing rapidly.

Strengthening international trade has been important for growth. Last year, we signed trade agreements with three new countries and concluded negotiations on a regional pact with Chile, Peru and Mexico — the Pacific Alliance, an integrated market of 210 million consumers and a GDP of nearly $2 trillion.

The Free Trade Agreement with the United States, implemented only one year ago, has already created significant opportunities for U.S. and Colombian businesses to reach both markets. Colombia is Florida's second-largest trade partner globally; last year, exports from Florida to Colombia exceeded $3 billion, a 50 percent increase over the past five years.

Colombia has come a long way. However, significant work remains to be done in order to become a developed country in the next generation. President Juan Manuel Santos is creating a substantial package of reforms in the judicial, political and rural sectors, which will accompany a peace negotiation with illegal groups in order to achieve the long-lasting peace that our country needs to reach its full potential.

Colombia is firmly on the path to sustained progress and prosperity. I invite Florida businesses to seize the new opportunities in Colombia and continue playing a key role in this shared success story.

 

 

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Colombia is paying less to borrow for three decades than developing nations with the same credit rating as it capitalizes on a pickup in economic growth and its trading ties with the U.S.

 

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January 21, 2014- News Clips - Colombia Joins EM Bond Bonanza

Colombia on Tuesday became the latest country to tap the market’s ferocious demand for emerging market debt after it successfully sold $2bn of 30-year bonds abroad.

 

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January 16, 2014- Press Releases - Embajador Villegas destaca continuación de cooperación EE.UU-Colombia   El Embajador de Colombia, Luis Carlos Villegas, dio hoy la siguiente declaración tras conocer la decisión del Congreso de EE.UU. de aprobar el presupuesto para el año 2014, en el cual se da continuidad a la cooperación entre EE.UU. y Colombia.   “Quiero destacar el permanente apoyo de los Estados Unidos a Colombia. En este presupuesto se asignaron recursos por más de $320 millones de dólares que se destinarán al fortalecimiento de nuestras fuerzas armadas, al sostenimiento de nuestra biodiversidad, a la asistencia de comunidades indígenas y afrocolombianas, y a nuestra cooperación bilateral en seguridad para los países de Centroamérica.   Particularmente en un momento de restricción fiscal, la acción tomada por el Congreso para mantener el apoyo a Colombia demuestra un fuerte respaldo bipartidista para el programa y refuerza la importancia de la alianza estratégica de larga data.   Desde su creación en el 2000, el Plan Colombia ha sido uno de los esfuerzos más exitosos de cooperación entre Colombia y los Estados Unidos”.   Según expresó el Presidente Santos al término de su reunión con el Presidente Barack Obama en la Casa Blanca en diciembre del año pasado, “las relaciones entre los dos países, tal vez en este momento están en su mejor momento en muchísimo tiempo. Por eso nuestra agenda es mucho más amplia. Una agenda que ya se salió de los puntos tradicionales que eran seguridad, narcotráfico y derechos humanos, para ampliarse en temas como educación, tecnología, energía y cooperación mutua frente a terceros países”.  
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Colombia's Grupo Energia de Bogota said Thursday that it has entered into a $650 million deal to acquire a stake in a consortium that operates a major Peruvian gas pipeline.

 

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Avianca Holdings SA, Colombia’s biggest airline, gained the most in three months after Grupo BTG Pactual named the stock as one if its top picks in the transportation industry.

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January 9, 2014- News Clips - U.S. to Push For More Trade With Latin America

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker unveiled a new initiative aimed at increasing business with trade partners in Latin America, only days after the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement's implementation.

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Marine fuel supplier OW Bunker said Monday it would start operations in Cartagena, Colombia. "The move into the Colombian bunker market builds upon OW Bunker's presence across the region with existing offices in Chile, Uruguay, Panama and Brazil," the company said in a statement.

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Travel + Leisure's Jane Wooldridge highlighted the "up-and-coming cruise port: Santa Marta, Colombia. She suggests an excursion that involves embracing Colombia's oldest city, where  you'll see artifacts of the Kogi and Arhuaco peoples in the Gold Museum-and tour the final home of 19th-century liberator Simón Bolívar."

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Marine fuel supplier OW Bunker said Monday it would start operations in Cartagena, Colombia. "The move into the Colombian bunker market builds upon OW Bunker's presence across the region with existing offices in Chile, Uruguay, Panama and Brazil," the company said in a statement.

 

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