Colombian investment promotion agency Proexport has been rebranded as Procolombia, following a survey of foreign entrepreneurs who commented that the agency’s original name does not reflect the name of the country it represents.
The agency will henceforth intensify its efforts to promote the country’s products and services, particularly tourism, which has recently grown into a major earner of foreign currency.
In the coming years, the agency will serve as an incubator for small and medium size enterprises, helping local firms to expand their operations to overseas countries. It is also mulling training local entrepreneurs in producing what it calls “quality products”.
Another new initiative is its Export Mentoring Program, which is designed to help local firms ally with foreign counterparts and learn the knacks of the trade.
The agency is talking of further strengthening the country’s tourism sector, which attracted a record 3.7 million foreign travelers last year. The current goal of the tourism sector is to bring in US$6 billion in foreign exchange revenue by 2018.
At the event organized to announce the renaming of the agency, President Santos called upon local businesspersons to “go out and conquer the global market,” saying there are 1.4 billion consumers ready to buy duty-free Colombian products.
Santos also spoke of the need to bolster the agribusiness and manufacturing sector, saying the country wants to earn $30 billion in exports revenue by 2018.
The Andean country has long shaken off its image as a country of cocaine peddlers, with its export revenue increasing by eight times and foreign investment by six times over the past decade.
But problems remain. The United Nations says Colombia is still heavily dependent on mining and ranching, and the economy is not generating enough jobs.
The Andean country has traditionally had a higher unemployment rate than its neighbors. Of the 23 million members of the workforce, the government estimated that in 2013 more than two million were out of work.