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Portafolio May 2010

Portafolio May 2010

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Published by: aaortizr on May 06, 2010
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PORTAFOLIO “Businessmen should get to know the Indian market” Vice President Francisco Santos “The big companies of this populated country, one of the fastest economies in theworld, has Colombia in its sights” assured Santos who is on a tour of Asia. While different analysts emphasized that Colombia should strengthen itscommercial relations with China, there are those who believe that India cannot beignored. Not only is it the second most populous nation on earth, but it is also the secondin growth, and is on its way to join the group of five largest economies of the planet inthe coming years. On this and other topics, PORTAFOLIO spoke to Vice President FranciscoSantos during the tour which he is undertaking in Asia and in which he is heading aColombian delegation in the inaugural ceremony of the Universal Exposition of Shanghai. Question : What do have to say about your tour? Answer : The first is the surprise that India evokes. On the one hand we findourselves with growth and changes which are taking place in the second most populatedcountry in the world. On the other hand, we notice the commercial aggressiveness of thefirms of that nation and how the biggest ones have Colombia in their sights. Question: What do you mean? Answer: The Indian businessmen who have been in Colombia and have investedhave done very well, and they already speak about a secure country with good conditionsfor receiving foreign capital, which has a good rate of growth and at the same time issimilar to India in doing business : with flexibility and agility. Question : How has this evolved? Answer : In the middle of the last decade we are exporting US$16 million and in2010 we came close to US$500 million covering over 40 products. And investmentcoming from India, in the short term – not counting mining, gas nor oil – can go uptoUS$ 1 billion. In this country, they are aware of the relative sophistication of Colombiaand want to take advantage, not only to sell in the internal market but also to do businessin the rest of Latin America. Question : What sectors are they mainly interested in? 
Answer: Outsourcing of highly sophisticated business operations. Let me explain: payment of dues of companies in any part of the world, analysis of financial credits,accounting and billing, among others. There are great possibilities of bringing hereimportant business that today is being done in Brazil and the US. Everything depends onwhether we do things right.Question : In what sense?Answer : For example, we need to design an intensive Portuguese language programme so that in a year economists and accountants can read and speak it fluently inorder to carry out operations in that country, apart from English of course. Question : What other sectors? Answer : They are very much interested in the software industry with the aim not tolatinoamericanise it, but to let it develop on its own, with training aimed at regional projection, including Brazilian and US markets. Also in the pharmaceutical sector thereis interest, as well as in the development of the hospitality industry. Furthermore, we contacted the third largest sugar company in the world. Theywant to buy a sugar mill in Colombia, and since it involves the energy sector, they arealso interested in developing a coking coal mine. On the other hand, Bollywood, the largest film industry in the world, is interestedin co-production as much of film as of music. Finally, the infrastructure companies arelooking very closely at projects that we have. And we are not speaking of small but of  big players. Question : What was the most interesting part of your visit to India? Answer: That they do not want to come to Colombia only to make money andleave, but they see it as a long term scenario and as a platform for business for LatinAmerica. I must admit that a great part of this is due to the intensive political, economicand cultural work of the Colombian Ambassador Juan Alfredo Pinto. Thanks to himmany doors have opened. Question : What advice do you give to Colombian businessmen? Answer : Get your bags ready. Go and find out about the Indian market. You willfind a positive environment towards our country and its businessmen and opportunitieswhich you can hardly imagine. Question : What do you recommend to the next Government on this subject? Answer: Refocus a large part of your policy for commercial promotion as well asthe budget that the Foreign Ministry assigns. We need to be much more in India in particular and in Asia in general.

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