Colombians eye central America

Jason Mitchell
Published on:

Not content with the blossoming pan-Andean financial market, Colombian banks and corporates are looking north to central America for opportunities for growth and as a means to forge a path to the lucrative markets of Mexico and the US.

Colombian entrepreneurs are turning their attention to central America as opportunities in Venezuela dry up. Ten years ago, Venezuela was Colombia’s second-biggest trading partner after the US. However, tensions between the former Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe, and the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, led many Colombian groups to pull back from Venezuela. They turned their sights towards central America, particularly Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. The Colombians have invested heavily in financial services and energy in the region.

Today, investment bankers say that there is such strong integration between Colombia and central America that banks that do not have a local commercial presence in the region increasingly regard the Andean and central American region as one.

"It is no exaggeration to say that a single market is developing between the Andean region and central America," says Ricardo De Bedout, country executive for Colombia at...