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Sergio Escobar

COLOMBIA - Economy

7.1% GDP Growth in Medellí­n in 2017

Executive Director, ACI Medellí­n

Bio

Sergio Escobar has held various positions in the public sector at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia and the embassies of Colombia in Italy, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Mexico. He has also been Director of Proexport/ProColombia in Costa Rica and Mexico. In the private sector, he has been Vice President of Fedemetal in Colombia, senior partner of Candiani Mining, and advisor to several companies in Colombia. He is also a former member of various corporate executive boards in Colombia, Mexico, and international organizations in the US, he has also been university professor teaching international trade and international affairs in countries like Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, and the US. His articles have been published by magazines and books in Brazil and Colombia, and he has also worked as an economic, political, and commercial analyst in television and radio stations such as Radio 1020, CNN in Spanish, Telemundo and Mega TV, among others. Currently, he is the Executive Director of the Agency for Cooperation and Investment of Medellí­n and the Metropolitan Area — ACI Medellí­n.

"Colombia's GDP for 2017 will likely be around 1.7%, while that of Medellí­n has grown about 7.1%."

How has the agency evolved over the past 15 years given the transformation of Medellí­n?

We have been working extremely hard in the past 15 years to create a better city, not because we want a better reputation in the world, but because we want to provide a better quality of life for the people who live here and for those who visit us. We have been working in two different businesses, attracting international cooperation as well as national and international investment. We are doing great, not only because we have solid numbers, but because those who bet on a new field of expansion are able to find the human talent they need here. We want to be different; we will not compare ourselves to other Colombian or Latin American cities. We want to give foreign investors the confidence that Medellí­n is the ideal place where they can create a platform to open new local, regional, national, and international businesses.

In October 2017, ACI Medellí­n went to Mexico City for the event ‘Why Medellí­n?’ What are the main highlights of this event?

We have one tool to attract international investment, and we call it ‘Why Medellí­n?’ which seeks to capture the attention of businessmen, entrepreneurs and investors and let them know they have to come to or find out more about Medellí­n. We want to demonstrate that we have and know how to play in the international field. We went to Mexico because it is an important player in international business. Today, we are partners in the Pacific Alliance that we created seven years ago and it is working extremely well. Medellí­n will be where large projects in different fields, such as manufacturing, services, logistics, and education, will take place. We will renovate the city’s downtown area and invest COP4.2 billion until 2019 just on this project. We want to make our downtown different and enjoyable, similar to Madrid, Florence, or Rome. This will be a public-private partnership and both the private and public sectors are working hard on this. During the Mexico event, we also noted that even though Colombia, Mexico, or Latin America are not seeing great growth, there are cities such as Medellí­n that are doing extremely well. Colombia’s GDP for 2017 will likely be around 1.7%, while that of Medellí­n has grown about 7.1%, and in the region, GDP growth will be close to 8.3%. We are working hard to show that we are not stopping here.

80% of the investment that reaches Medellí­n comes from abroad. Which are the main markets and what others is ACI Medellí­n looking into?

We target special countries, though there have been investors from places we have not promoted Medellí­n to before, such as Singapore, South Korea, and so on, which is a pleasant surprise to us. Thus far we have received investment from the US, Spain, France, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile, as well as other atypical countries such as Switzerland, Guatemala, the Netherlands, the UK, and Panama. We have conducted research to determine what to do in 2018 and have found certain countries of interest such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and even Ghana in which could be a great option to promote Medellí­n as an investment destination.

What are your expectations for the end of this year and which sectors show the most potential?

We targeted total FDI of USD200 million in 2017; however, as of September 30 we reached USD372 million and still have three months to add some numbers. In terms of sectors, innovation, manufacturing, and agroindustry are the key fields of investment that have come to Medellí­n. For many decades, this was an important manufacturing city; however, today we are working to be a services city as well. We also target services in different fields such as health, energy, construction, S.T.I., and recently the aerospace industry. We seek to provide maintenance services to the different types of planes flying in Latin America. We are currently improving an important aerospace industry cluster that is taking place in this city. Its headquarters are in the international airport and today there are 16 different private companies providing these services that have already been certified by Airbus, Boeing, and other key private air companies and airlines. Today, we have on our list 10 more companies that seek to be new partners in this industry in Medellí­n. We will see huge numbers in the coming years.

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