The unemployment rate for Colombia has dropped to 9.7%, the lowest it has been in 11 years. According to the Director of the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE), unemployment rate is the lowest it has been for this month in 11 years. The statistic is in alignment with what the government anticipated for Colombia, reported Portfolio.
Colombia could in few years be among the group of leading economies in the world with the highest growth rate based on positive indicators and a steady inflow of investments, according to experts from the Spanish bank during an economic forum. “The country registers a growth trail that accelerated in the last twelve years. Investment has experienced a healthy steady advance and so has private consumption. Investment inflow jumped from 14 percent of GDP in 2000 to 28 percent in 2012, which represents 5.5 times in twelve years,” said BBVA Colombia chief economist Juana Tellez.
Colombia's new Ambassador to Washington formally initiated his diplomatic labors Wednesday by presenting his credentials to U.S. President Barack Obama. Carlos Urrutia Valenzuela was appointed as Ambassador by Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos on September 5 with the main objective of promoting investment in his country and strengthening international ties by materializing the promises of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which was recently signed between Colombia and the U.S. in May earlier this year.
You don't need superpowers to be a hero. Which might explain the popularity of the annual ‘CNN Heroes’ list of “everyday people” making a difference in the world. This week the network announced the Top Ten Heroes for 2012 -- representing six countries and four continents -- among which is Colombian Catalina Escobar. Escobar, 42, was a successful business woman with an international trading company until two deaths changed her life in October 2000. … Overwhelmed with grief and determined to save the lives of children in the city, Escobar sold her company and founded the Juan Felipe Gomez Escobar Foundation (named after her late son). Within the first five years of her work, the Colombian philanthropist helped reduce the infant mortality rate at the hospital by 67 percent.
A South American yogurt maker is marking the grand opening of an $18 million plant in western New York, its first in the United States. Executives of Alpina Foods, elected and state officials are expected for a ceremony Monday in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park in Batavia. Bogota, Colombia-based Alpina Foods broke ground on the facility, midway between Buffalo and Rochester, last October.
Colombia’s export sales to the United States grew by 10.4% in the first three months of the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), said the Director of the Office of Development Friday. The figures, which exclude petroleum, coal and gold exports, came from Director Jose Gomez during an economics forum in the country's third largest city Cali. Gomez has long been an advocate of the free trade deal with the U.S. and regularly provides updates on its positive aspects.
Every Sunday from 7 am to 2 pm, 121 kilometers of main streets and thoroughfares in Bogotá, Colombia--a city of almost 8 million people--are closed to vehicular traffic to allow the city’s residents to bike, jog, roller-skate, skateboard, and stroll. There are hundreds of vendors along the route, mostly offering fruit products and health food. The route is also dotted with bicycle repair stations, health promotion spots, and, at several parks along the course there are open-air aerobics classes, free to everyone. Known as “ciclovía,” this model is being copied in cities around the world and even a few cities in the US.
The president of the Republic of Colombia is returning to Kansas, where he attended college, and where he will be honored for his public service. Juan Manuel Santos is scheduled to speak today at the University of Kansas where he earned degrees in economics and business in 1973.
Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos has appointed Sergio Jaramillo Caro on Tuesday to be the country's new High Commissioner for Peace to mediate negotiations with the FARC during peace talks. … The president said that the office of the High Commissioner for Peace was recreated to make "conditions to find a process leading to peace in the country." Jaramillo will act as the intermediary between the government and the country's largest guerrilla group FARC during the peace process which will begin in Norway in early October.
Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos granted a prestigious award to two of the country's silver medallists for their outstanding achievements at the London 2012 Paralympics. Swimmer Moises Fuentes came second in the men's 100-meter breaststroke while athlete Elkin Serna was runner-up in the men's marathon, and both were awarded the Order of Boyaca during a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Colombia.
Ambassador Details Colombia’s Ambitious Infrastructure Plan at U.S. State Department Conference
Highlights Opportunities for U.S. Firms in Road, Rail, Port &
Washington, DC — Today, during the U.S. State Department’s Global Infrastructure Conference, Colombian Ambassador to the United States Carlos Urrutia detailed the country’s ambitious 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, Ambassador Urrutia discussed the critical 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,” said Urrutia. “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 one percent.”
The government of Colombia 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. But we cannot embark on this infrastructure revolution alone. A significant share of this effort will need to come from public-private partnerships,” said Urrutia.
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. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the event, and in attendance were numerous officials from the U.S. Departments of Commerce, State, Transportation and Treasury, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
World Music Central.org
World Music Central‘s celebration of Hispanic Heritage month goes on with the music of Colombia, which is well respected throughout the world. The South American nation has produced international pop stars like Shakira and Juanes, as well as folk musical genres like cumbia and vallenato that have had a tremendous influence in other Latin American countries.
Some of the world’s largest oil companies are jostling for licences to explore for shale gas in Colombia, one of many countries hoping to replicate the North American boom in unconventional gas. ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips are among the more than 80 companies bidding for licences, according to Javier Gutiérrez, chief executive of Ecopetrol, Colombia’s state-run energy company.
Video Excerpt: What do young musicians who come from the edge of the Amazon rain forest, the sophisticated big city of Bogotá, and the villages and towns in-between have in common? An incredible music education system and one of the top youth orchestras in the Americas! This week, From the Top comes to you from the Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo in Bogotá, Colombia, where you'll hear amazing performances by the Colombian Youth Philharmonic (Filarmónica Joven de Colombia) and one of the nation's flagship Orff ensembles.
Broadcast Program: What do young musicians who come from the edge of the Amazon rain forest, the sophisticated big city of Bogotá, and the villages and towns in-between have in common? An incredible music education system and one of the top youth orchestras in the Americas! This week, From the Top comes to you from the Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo in Bogotá, Colombia, where you’ll hear amazing performances by the Colombian Youth Philharmonic and one of the nation's flagship Orff ensembles.
The Colombian government introduced a bill on Thursday to ensure equality among the country's Afro-Colombian communities. According to newscast CM&, the project was announced by Interior Minister Fernando Carrillo to guarantee the participation of the Afro-Colombian community groups Comunidades Negras, Afrocolombians, Raizales and Palenqueras. The project includes giving economic incentives to all parties and movements that include members of black communities if they vote in the elections.
Colombia and the European Union on Friday signed a pact on de-mining 12 of Colombia's 32 departments which are most affected by the scourge of landmines. The government of Colombia and the EU signed an $11 million agreement to strengthen the action against landmines which have killed 10,001 victims since records began in 1990. The money of the agreement "Strengthening the Action against Anti-personnel Mines in Colombia" will be aimed at educating on the risk of mines, assisting victims and de-mining.
Latin American Herald Tribune
Colombia, the world’s fifth-leading palm oil producer, will finish 2012 with a record output of 1 million tons, the Fedepalma federation representing growers and producers said. That figure was provided by the federation’s president, Jens Meza, at the opening of the 17th International Palm Oil Conference in this Caribbean resort city.
Santos graduated from University of Kansas in 1973, earning degrees in economics and business. This was his first trip back to the campus since he graduated. He visited the places where he lived and studied, including walking by Allen Fieldhouse where the Jayhawks play basketball. … Santos was being honored with the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, the highest honor given by the College of Liberal Arts and Science. He discussed his career after leaving Kansas and answered questions before departing for New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly. Santos said the gathering has a lot to discuss, including the troubles in the Middle East and the ongoing financial crisis across Europe.
Embassy of Colombia
The new Colombian Ambassador to the United States, Carlos Urrutia, presented his credentials to President Barack Obama at the White House this afternoon. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos appointed Ambassador Urrutia on September 5, 2012.
New Colombian Ambassador to the United States Carlos Urrutia Presents Credentials to President Obama
Washington, DC — The new Colombian Ambassador to the United States, Carlos Urrutia, presented his credentials to President Barack Obama at the White House this afternoon. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos appointed Ambassador Urrutia on September 5, 2012.
“The relationship between Colombia and the United States has never been stronger. As Ambassador, I will work to advance relations between our two countries and to increase cooperation and partnership in all areas, including the effective promotion of the most significant economic agreement in our joint history – the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA),” said Urrutia.
In addition to maximizing the benefits of the FTA, one of Colombia’s key economic priorities vis-à-vis the United States is securing inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Colombia’s bilateral priorities also include deepening collaboration through the U.S.-Colombia High-Level Partnership Dialogue, continuing cooperation on the Action Plan for Labor Rights and judicial issues, and building on the longstanding security partnership to fight global threats such as drug trafficking, terrorism and transnational organized crime.
“My efforts will also focus on helping the people of the United States discover the new Colombia. Our country has changed significantly in the last decade, and I will work to promote greater awareness of Colombia’s rich culture and people, our vibrant and rapidly growing economy, and all of the new opportunities for trade, investment and tourism,” said Urrutia.
Throughout his career, Urrutia has been a leader in both the public and private sectors, including a 35-year career in one of Colombia’s most prestigious law firms. He is a former Secretary General and Secretary of Finance of the Governorship of the Department (state) of Cundinamarca, Colombia. Appointed by the Colombian Government, Urrutia is also currently a panel member on the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes’ Panel of Arbitrators.
To read the Ambassador’s bio, click here.
The United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights joined a chorus of international figures Monday by praising the peace process currently underway between FARC rebels and the Colombian government. UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay used her opening statement before the 21st session of the Human Rights Council to express her support for the fledgling dialog.
There will be three days to enjoy festivities of the yearly music festival Jazz in the Park as it celebrate its 17th year in Colombia's capital Bogota from September 7-9. Jazz, considered by many to be the most influential genre of the 20th century and a universal heritage in the field of fusion, will be celebrated in Bogota's July 20th Plaza for the opening gala of the festival.
The United Nations has chosen Colombia's second largest city Medellin to host the seventh World Urban Forum. Colombia's Housing Minister German Vargas Lleras realized a petition during the last World Urban Forum 2012 in Naples, Italy, for Medellin to host the next version of the event.
White House – Office of the Press Secretary
President Obama today welcomed the announcement that Colombian President Santos reached a framework for peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC. The President noted that the “Santos administration has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to seeking a durable peace and ensuring a better life for all Colombians through its security and social inclusion policies.”
The president of the Republic of Colombia travels to Lawrence this month for events at the University of Kansas and the Dole Institute of Politics. … Santos graduated from KU in 1973 with degrees in economics and business. He's scheduled to be on campus Sept. 24 to meet with students. He'll also take part in a public event at the Dole Institute, where he will receive the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award. That's the highest honor given by the College of Liberal Arts and Science.
Wall Street Journal
… "The responsibility of this decision will fall on my shoulders and no one else," said Mr. Santos in a nationally televised address. Last week, Mr. Santos announced that the Colombian government had been engaged in preliminary talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC by its Spanish acronym, to end the long-standing conflict. In Tuesday's speech, Mr. Santos said the two sides had agreed on what he called a "road map" for the talks. … Mr. Santos said that peace was possible now because Colombia's economy has boomed, giving poor Colombians a better future, and because achieving political change through violence is no longer seen as a real possibility in the world.
In one major change halfway through the president's four-year mandate, Santos appointed lawyer Fernando Carrillo as his new interior minister, replacing Federico Renjifo, who was named mines and energy minister. Renjifo's post is critical in Colombia, which has become Latin America's fourth-largest oil producer. He replaces Mauricio Cardenas, who has been tapped to lead the Finance Ministry. Santos also appointed Cecilia Alvarez-Correa as the new transport minister, while economist Alejandro Gaviria took up health and Juan Gabriel Uribe got the environment.
… “Colombia overtook Argentina’s GDP; we are the second economy in South America behind Brazil and third largest behind Brazil and Mexico. In the first two years of President (Juan Manuel) Santos administration we managed to overtake the Venezuelan economy and now the Argentine, it’s a dream come true”, said Echeverry. … Colombia together with Mexico, Peru and Chile have created the Pacific Alliance, an organization to promote trade and investment, which contrary to what is going on at the ‘protectionist’ Atlantic side of South America, these countries are identified with open economies, welcome foreign investment, promote trade and the private sector.
Representatives of Colombian businesses rang the bell at the start of trading of the New York Stock Exchange Monday. The ceremonial opening of trading was also the beginning of Colombia Day, an event organized to promote Colombian businesses with U.S. investors. "Colombia Day has one very important goal: to bring positive exposure to the growing and exciting Colombian financial markets," spokeswoman for the initiative, Maria Baron, told Colombia Reports in August.
Colombia, the second-largest supplier of Arabica coffee beans, said production will rise at least 8.8 percent this year as drier weather aids the crop. The nation will harvest 8.5 million bags or more of the beans, compared with 7.8 million bags last year, Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers said today. Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo forecast output of about 9 million bags yesterday on broadcaster Caracol Radio.
Colombia has skated their way to first place in the 2012 Inline Speed-Skating World Championship. The Colombian selection won 14 medals during the skating world championship that took place in Italy this past weekend, making them leaders of the sport followed by the host team Italy and then the selection of South Korea. The Colombian athletes took away 9 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze medals overall, four medals ahead of the second-place Italy team.
Colombia's golden poison dart frog has been nominated to be a wonder of the natural world by international conservation groups. The frog, considered to be one of the most toxic animals on earth and with enough venom to kill 10 men, lives in a small plot of rainforest on Colombia's western Pacific coast. The tiny animal, only two inches long, has been nominated by a network of organizations who have taken the traditional "seven wonders of the world" concept and modified it to help raise awareness for the most threatened species and sites on the planet.
Colombia sold 1 trillion pesos ($557 million) of peso-linked bonds in overseas markets to take advantage of demand for emerging-market assets after the Federal Reserve took measures to lower benchmark U.S. yields. … “This is an opportune time to tap markets when interest rates are at such low levels,” said Nader Nazmi, a Latin America economist at BNP Paribas SA in New York. “There is interest in countries that tell a good story and Colombia is one of those countries.”
Colombia’s general budget for the fiscal year of 2013 has been set at $103 billion, reported local media Thursday. The country's economic commissions approved the nation's budget, which is set at a 12% growth from the previous year's budget of approximately $92 billion.
Colombia's Infrastructure Agency announced a plan on Friday to invest $2.2 billion on new roads in the country. Director of the National Infrastructure Agency Luis Fernando Andrade officialized the scheme which will begin at end of the year with the construction of six new road projects, reported La W Radio.
The recently-appointed finance minister, Mauricio Cárdenas, announced Thursday in Bogotá that Colombia’s gross domestic product grew 4.9 per cent in the second quarter, after expanding only 4.7 per cent in a rocky first quarter that was held back by weak growth of industry, oil output, and exports. … “A chunk of Colombia’s growth came through the huge wave of mining and energy, a strong fiscal position, the highest terms of trade in 25 years, low inflation, and high levels of investment. So everything points out that things could go well down the road,” said Marc Hofstetter, an economist with the University of Los Andes in Bogotá. Colombia is still one of the top performers in the region, behind Peru, which grew 6.1 per cent in Q2, and Chile, which saw Q2 growth of 5.5 per cent.
New York Daily News
Colombia is looking forward to bringing its world renowned coffee brands like Juan Valdez to India and market the products in the region. "We see a great future for Colombian coffee here, especially because we have taken notice of the local market's affection for quality and product superiority," the Colombian embassy here said in a statement.
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos has announced an investment program of $360 million in the Caribbean coastal region on Monday. At the conclusion in Cartagena of Monday's meeting with the OCAD, the body responsible for defining investment projects, the president announced that the Caribbean region would get 54 projects for roads water, tourism, agriculture, health, housing and ICT among others.
… My tour started in Bogota and included touring the Gold Museum, the Palace of Justice, the Cathedral, Bolivar's Square and Bolivar's country house. We took a cable car to the top of Monserrate for a panoramic view and visit to the 17th century church and monument to the "Fallen Christ." Bogota, a city of more than 7 million people, has a temperate climate and is situated at 8,630 feet above sea level. Colombia is an equatorial country with no real seasons and has coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean.