The president of the Colombian-American Chamber of Commerce based in Colombia, Joe Finnin, extended an invitation to Atlanta businesses to invest there during this “most critical period” on the country’s economic and political fronts, when GlobalFax interviewed him by telephone from his office in Bogotá last week.

Mr. Finnin hailed a special trade zone near Bogotá as an excellent location for foreign investment because it offers tax breaks, modern telecommunications equipment and high security, plus a new highway that connects the zone to the international airport in a 15-minute drive.

He suggested Atlanta firms use the new, direct five-hour Delta Air Lines flight to visit Bogotá and discuss investment strategies with his office, the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. companies there.

      He added that this critical period might be the right time to invest in Colombia because “where there is high risk, there is high reward.”

      The country’s civil war among guerilla groups, drug cartels and the federal government may overshadow business opportunities, but Mr. Finnin said there has actually been a slight economic upswing in 2000. More than 100 U.S. companies operating in Colombia are “still doing very good business” while taking the necessary security precautions, he added.

      Investing in Colombia when the economy is depressed but has the potential for growth, may enable Georgia companies to “get reasonable prices” and “better circumstances to compete,” said Colombian Consul General César Gonzalez in an interview from his Atlanta office.

Mr. Finnin was uncertain about the reaction of Colombian guerilla groups to the $1.6 billion U.S. aid package to support the Colombian economic development and anti-narcotics effort, Plan Colombia.

But he urged Georgia companies that do not wish to take the risk of setting up full operations in Colombia to establish joint ventures with Colombian firms to take advantage of the highly skilled and professional Colombian labor force. He added that service or call centers for U.S. companies do well in Colombia.

Contact the Colombian Consulate in Atlanta at (404) 255-2516 or Mr. Finnin in Bogotá at (011)(57)(1) 621-0073.