Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Colombia's Uribe Seeks Brazilian Oil, Milk, Beef Investments. Colombia Seems a Better Client than Ecuador, Venezuela or Bolivia for These Sectors

Uribe officials say his six-year policy of building
investor trust will pay off during the crisis. We will see ...

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe started a two-day visit to Brazil yesterday, courting the São Paulo's industrial elite and urging them to invest in a country where rules for private entrepreneurs hardly change. This is very true, relative to the actions of its neighbours (Venezuela, Ecuador ...) Uribe sat down next to Petrobras President José Sergio Gabrielli at a lunch; he said having Petrobras as partner in the upgrading of the Cartagena refinery would be ''magnificent´´ (see our Earlybird posting today on the exit of Glencore as partner in this venture.) Uribe also urged beef and dairy makers to invest in Colombia -- where installed capacity to process the products in insufficient. Uribe's move is clever, though late. By stopping short of asking the Brazilians for their support on Colombia's fight against narco-terrorism, he seeks to focus on more concrete stuff, with a concrete proposal now that the government is opening the spending faucets as aggressively as ever. The Brazilians may be interested to invest in Colombia, weren't for the crisis has left some of their companies in bad shape. Currently the Votorantim group, Gerdau, Petrobras are some of the large investors working and making good money in Colombia.

Uribe meets Lula today in Brasilia. Truth is, Colombia and Brazil aren't countries whose exports tend to complement. Comparative advantages are hard to find out, but Colombia offers two oceans, a very consistent infrastructure investment programme that is well funded, a growing consumer market (the third most-populated in Latin America) and is a key seller to the U.S. Let's hope the Workers' Party undertakes these talks in a non-ideological mode, that it listens to its business community and defends its interests first before shutting the door on a potential good partner that is more likely to respect private sector interests than the natural allies (Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, among others.) Let's put it clear-cut: Lula, just keep Marco Aurelio García, your top international aide, away from these negotiations with Uribe.

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