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Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

What’s Up in Colombia… 3

… looks like growth to me. Economic growth. The result of, among other things, political and economic stability.

Colombian economic boom

I’m posting today from Bogota, the capital of Colombia, during a week-long work visit recording business videos in Spanish. My opinion here isn’t formal economic analysis, just what’s obvious from a few days in the country. I don’t claim any expertise on this topic.

Still, if you search for “economic boom in Colombia” in any of the major web search engines, you’re going to see a lot of recent articles. And facts to back up the general optimism of the people I’m doing business with this week. Something special is going on here. This economy is growing despite the worldwide problems we’ve seen since 2007. And, perhaps more interesting, many of the articles and most of the people I’ve been talking to attribute the growth to fundamentals like political stability and decline of crime.

Some say that the U.S. so-called “war on drugs,” especially as it relates to the situation in Colombia of 10-20 years ago, may have helped this country stabilize and grow. So maybe it didn’t make much difference in the U.S., but it at least it probably helped the economy and the people of Colombia. Foreign investment grew more than 25% in the last year, and the per capita income has grown fourfold this century. The numbers are impressive. Colombia’s debt to GDP runs about 27 percent, compared to 73 percent in the United States. And Economic growth is running at about six percent per year.

I post here occasionally about my country-in-law, Mexico, where I spent 10 years of my youth. It seems only fair to post here about what’s happening in Colombia. Good news doesn’t get enough coverage.

(Note: the image here was courtesy of the Colombian embassy)

  • http://www.iod.com/connect Nabeel Akhtar

    There is a fantastic opportunity for foreign businesses to take advantage of in Colombia.

    This a great article in which Nick Pickthall, managing director Latin America, of fragrance house CPL Aromas, talks about what he has learnt from doing business in Bogota.

    Click here for the article: http://theiod.co/1aPvbGg

    You can also download PDFs, engage in conversation around the topic and watch the YouTube video.

  • Tom Schopp

    Now maybe they can help us with our drug problem.

    • http://timberry.com Tim Berry

      Hi Tom, and yes, that’s an interesting irony. I didn’t want to confuse the post above, but I think there’s a lesson in Colombia’s growth related to the U.S.’ drug problem.

      It seems like our war against drugs in Colombia did help Colombia establish stability and peace, but it didn’t solve our problem at all. from what I see of Mexico (which I know very well) and Colombia (which I know just barely; from just a couple of visits) what really happened is the drug supply culture was pushed out of Colombia and ended up not dead, not stopped, not solved, but simply moved north to Mexico.

      I don’t have kilos of data to prove that, and I haven’t taken the time to research seriously, but my assumption is quite common in the U.S., Mexico, and in Colombia. It rings true.

      And if it is true, what we see is nobody will ever win a war against drugs by fighting the supply side of the problem. As long as there is demand, supply will come. It’s too rich a market, too lucrative a criminal activity. If we were to spend the hundreds of millions or maybe billions of dollars it would take to squeeze it out of Mexico like we did for Colombia, it would just go somewhere else.

      So how can what’s happening in Colombia help us deal with the drug problem in the U.S.? By proving the above: Like it or not, we’re going to have to realize that the solution is more like what we do with alcohol than what we do with marijuana.