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Medellin business-development agency Agencia de Cooperación e Inversión de Medellín y el Área Metropolitana (ACI) announced January 19 that Switzerland-based multinational consultant Amaris plans to expand its Colombian and South American operations following start-up of new offices at Medellin’s “Ruta N” high-tech hosting center.

“Teamwork between ACI Medellín, Ruta N and ProColombia, managed to consolidate the presence of this company in the country,” according to ACI.

Amaris – now operating through 65 offices in 50 countries, with some 700 corporate clients – chose Medellin for expansion because of the “innovative environment offered by the city and its strategic geographical location to support its other offices in the provision of recruitment services, human resources, administration, finance and technical support,” according to ACI.

“Ruta N offered us a pleasant work environment,” added Sara Mondragón, platform manager at Amaris Medellin. “Thanks to the other [high-tech] companies installed [here], we are surrounded by an innovative and challenging environment. We constantly interact with the members of other foreign companies that are part of the Ruta N ecosystem” and “we see an excellent opportunity to benefit from their knowledge of the Colombian market.

“To make this decision we made an analysis of the environment and the quality of life in Latin America. Medellín was the best decision [considering] cost, safety, quality of life, institutional support and human talent,” Mondragón concluded.

Amaris -- founded in Switzerland in 2007 -- specializes in business-administration consulting, information technology, telecommunications, engineering, biotech and pharmaceutical sectors.

“With a turnover of €187 million [US$228 million], its goal in 2018 is to reach a team of 5,000 employees -- currently amounting to 3,650 -- and thus ratify itself as a world leader in independent consulting,” according to the company.


The latest monthly survey of leading banks and financial firms by Colombia’s Banco de la Republica (the national bank) finds that the Colombian peso is likely to trade in a range of COP$2,800 to COP$3,200 per US$1 during 2018, with a foreseen average of COP$2,995/US$1 by year-end.

The monthly survey (see: http://www.banrep.gov.co/es/informe-estadisticas-monetarias-y-cambiarias) of 40 leading private banks, stock analysts, pension funds and international organizations also sees the COP/US dollar trading in roughly the same ranges through 2019 and 2020.

Severe cold weather in the northern hemisphere in recent weeks has boosted global energy demand, with the result that rising oil prices -- traded in US dollars -- habitually weaken relative values of the US dollar against other currencies, including the Colombian peso.

As a result, the Colombian peso has been trading below COP$2,900/US$1 in the last couple of weeks, down from more than COP$3,000/US$1 during several days in Decemeber 2017.

The same survey also found that full-year 2018 inflation is likely to come-in at around 3.47%, with full-year 2019 inflation seen at around 3.33%.

Gross domestic product (“PIB” in Spanish initials) is seen growing by 2.45% this year, according to the average forecast of the surveyed analysts.


In a new study released January 15, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) finds that Colombia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is likely to rebound to 2.6% growth in 2018, up from 1.8% in 2017.

“GDP is projected to expand by 2.6% in 2018 against a backdrop of lower interest rates, higher oil prices and an expected improvement in the performance of the economies of the United States and the Euro area,” the latter two areas being key Colombian export markets, according to the study.

 During 2017, Colombia’s domestic demand slipped, pinching GDP growth. However, “there are some indications that the slowdown may have now bottomed out and that the growth rate will have begun to pick up [since] the third quarter of 2017,” according to ECLAC.

Meanwhile, “the upturn in international mineral and oil prices [during 2017] helped to bring down the deficit on the goods account as the value of fuel exports strengthened,” the study noted.

“Foreign direct investment (FDI), although weaker than the year before, and portfolio investment were the two categories of inflows that made the biggest contributions to the financial account in the first half of 2017,” according to ECLAC.

On a related front, “gross fixed capital formation rose slightly thanks to an acceleration of investment in civil works, agricultural facilities and transport equipment. Investment in construction slumped, however. Government consumption climbed at a rate of 3.5%.

“Growth was driven by the agricultural sector –with coffee production and other crops leading the way– and by sectors associated with social, personal and financial services,” the study noted.

On the other hand, “the construction sector was hurt by weaker building demand and by contractual problems that delayed the closing of the financial packages for the 4G [fourth-generation] road infrastructure program.

“The mining sector continued to decline, although there were some faint signs of a recovery thanks to an upturn in prices,” ECLAC added.

Fedesarollo Predicts 2.4% Rise in GDP

Meanwhile, Fedesarollo -- Colombia’s leading economic think-tank – on January 12 released its latest Tendencia Económica (economic trends) report, finding that national GDP is likely to grow by 2.4% this year.

Fedesarollo also noted that Wall Street bond rater Standard & Poor’s last month cut its rating on Colombia’s sovereign debt to "BBB-", down from a prior "BBB" rating, although maintaining a “stable” outlook. “The decision by S&P highlights the fiscal challenges over the mid-term,” Fedesarollo’s report noted.

Although federal tax collections in 2017 were “weak,” Colombia’s fiscal goals were met thanks to a COP$4 trillion (US$1.4 billion) cut in government spending along with a one-time fiscal gain from massive fines imposed upon cell-phone companies accused of price-rigging, the study found.

However, such one-time gains aren’t in the cards in future years, so the government must take further steps to maintain its fiscal targets, Fedesarollo added.

Meanwhile, the most recent economic indicators show that Colombia’s full-year 2017 GDP growth likely finished at around 1.7%, while latest GDP forecasts for 2018 indicate a likely rebound to around 2.4% growth, the study noted.


Medellin-based multinational power giant EPM announced December 29 that it won a US$1 billion credit from the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) “Invest” funding subsidiary for debt finance of its 2.4-gigawatt, US$5 billion “Hidroituango” hydroelectric project in Antioquia.

The credit package includes payback terms of eight-to-12 years. Draws would take place during a four-year period, virtually completing 100% of Hidroituango project finance, according to EPM.

Commenting on the deal, EPM general manager Jorge Londoño de la Cuesta said the finance package is of “profound significance” for the company as it ensures broader funding diversity.

As a result of the latest deal, 36% of Hidroituango finance will come from EPM’s own resources with the other 64% from debt sources.

Winning IDB backing not only represents debt diversification but also means that major international lenders fully recognize EPM’s technical, social, environmental and financial capacity, he added.

The US$1 billion package includes US$50 million from the Chinese government, US$300 million from IDB and US$650 million from private international banks including Sumitomo Mitsui, BNP Paribas, BBVA, Banco Santander, CDPB, KFW PEX and ICBC, according to EPM.

The Hidroituango project is now 80% complete with the first 300 megawatts of power output scheduled to start at year-end 2018, according to the company.

EPM is 100% owned by the city of Medellin and now operates throughout Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panamá, Chile and México, providing electric power, natural gas, drinking water and sewage treatment systems.


Colombia’s top economic think-tank -- Fundación para la Educación Superior y el Desarrollo (Fedesarollo) -- on December 13 unveiled a report which finds that mining and energy projects will continue to be crucial to restoration of slumping national government finances.

Antioquia is Colombia’s biggest gold-mining department -- and hence figures into the equation.

“The future of the mining and energy sector is key for the stability of foreign currency reserves and government finance for the coming years -- and for social well-being,” according to the latest Tendencia Economica (economic trends) report from Fedesarollo.

“Nevertheless, the panorama for the [mining and energy] sector looks uncertain. Therefore it’s indispensable to create the necessary conditions to increase production of petroleum and other minerals in the mid-term," according to Fedesarollo.

“While petroleum prices have recovered in the short term, there are various factors that could affect crude production in the future.The decline in [national crude] reserves is paired with relatively low rates of return in the sector. This provides little incentive to stimulate private investment in secondary recovery [at existing crude production sites] or for projects to exploit unconventional reserves through practices such as hydraulic fracturing [fracking],” the report adds.

However, fracking “faces hostility from many sectors of society as well as environmental authorities,” Fedesarollo’s report notes.

“On the other hand, production of petroleum, coal and other minerals confront important obstacles associated with institutional weakness and unstable rules [involving] government environmental licenses and community consultations” that could spell “grave economic and fiscal consequences for the nation,” the report warns.


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About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

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