The implementation of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries, has meant more Colombian businesses investment coming to our country.
However, experts don’t see in 2014 too great an increase over last year’s investments by Colombian companies.
In the last three years we saw major investments by Colombians in Costa Rica, like Grupo Aval purchasing Grupo BAC|Credomatic, Davidienda purchasing the HSBC operations in Costa Rica and the arrival of retailers like GEF and Arturo Calle.
Costa Rica is appealing to Colombian businesses looking to expand their markets north, taking advantage of tariff incentives included in the FTA.
The Asociación de Empresarios Colombianos en Costa Rica (Association of Colombian Businesses in Costa Rica) says it has now 70 member businesses, more than double that of six years ago.
From a Colombian’s point of view, Costa Rica could be a springboard to other markets in Central America: Panama, Nicaragua and further north. Even into the United States.
“We have established ourselves as a country with a competitive platform for the export of their products and services to customers on the continent and in other world markets, as well as the regional headquarters for their operations”, said Gabriela Llobet, director CINDE, Costa Rica’s investment promotion agency about Colombian businesses setting up or looking to set up in Costa Rica.
Llobet explains that industries such as software, textile, medical, hospitality, financing and agriculture offer Colombian businesses benefis, both for the domestic market and export.
The CINDE director added that Colombian companies can also benefit from Costa Rican businesses already with experience in North American markets. To that end, experts see the joint ventures between Colombian and Costa Rican businesses as a growing trend.
The arrival of Grupo Aval and Davidienda represented an almost US$2 billion dollar investment in Costa Rica.
“2013 was an important year for us for the consolidation of operations in the country, reaching a growth, specifically in credit portfolios and deposits”, said Federico Chaves, director of Davidienda in Costa Rica.
Today, some of the Colombian investment in Costa Rica includes Corona, a Colombian company specializing in the manufacture and distribution of construction materials, with the purchase of a major stake in Incesa and the American Standard brand in Costa Rica.
In 2012, in addition to Davidienda, Colombia’s Grupo Nutresa purchased POPS, Costa Rica’s ice cream brand; Promitel, a leader in fibre optics, began manufacturing in Costa Rica; and, the purchase of Kativo (major paint manufacturer and retailer in Costa Rica and Central America) by Colombia’s Grupo Inversrions Mundial-Pintuco.
In 2010, Colombia’s supermarket chain Olimpica bought Megasuper; Grupo Aval bought out BAC|Credomatic. In 2006, Nutresa purchased Grupo Pozuelo (cookies and baked goods) for US$116 million. In 2004, Nutresa purchased Nestlé operations in Costa Rica.
Today, Colombian companies with operations (either direct of by way of franchise) in Costa Rica include: Totto, GEF, Arturo Calle, Bésame, Ambiente Gourmet, Bosi, Mario Hernandez, Off Corss and Touché.
Sources: La Republica, Proexport Colombia, CINDE, Association of Colombian Businesses in Costa Rica and Q Archives