Colombian Ambassador to the United States Carlos Urrutia on Thursday detailed the country’s plan to increase its global competitiveness through significant public and private sector investments in infrastructure.
In remarks before high-level business executives from nearly 90 U.S. companies at the U.S. State Department’s Global Infrastructure Conference, Urrutia discussed the role infrastructure development will play in boosting Colombia’s growing economy and maximizing the benefits of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
“To fully reap the benefits of the FTA, we urgently need to solve a major bottleneck in our economy,” he said. “Improving our infrastructure is a cornerstone of President Santos’ agenda. His objective is to leapfrog our competitiveness by increasing investment in highways, railways, ports and airports to three percent of GDP, from historically low levels of only 1 percent.”
The Colombian government projects that between 2012 and 2013, investment in the nation’s infrastructure will increase from $3 billion to $4 billion, and to $10 billion by 2014. By 2018, Colombia aims to achieve a fourfold increase in four-lane highways, a threefold increase in the length of railways in operation, 100 percent growth in port capacity and a 50 percent capacity increase in the nation’s airports.
“This infrastructure plan is not only key to enhancing our competitiveness, but also strategic to consolidate the state’s presence in every corner of our territory and to integrate all Colombians into this new area of economic growth,” Urrutia said. “But we cannot embark on this infrastructure revolution alone. A significant share of this effort will need to come from public-private partnerships.”
Aimed at identifying opportunities for U.S. companies in new infrastructure development projects across the globe, the conference brought together U.S. business leaders and officials from the governments of Colombia, India, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates. Also in attendance were officials from the U.S. Commerce, State, Transportation and Treasury departments; U.S. Export-Import Bank; Overseas Private Investment Corp. and U.S. Trade and Development Agency. - Eric Johnson