(Adds details, background)
BOGOTA, March 16 Standard & Poor's rating
agency on Wednesday raised Colombia to investment grade, citing
the economy's growing resilience to external shocks and its
favorable growth prospects.
S&P'S decision will attract a new class of investors to
Colombia, lowering government borrowing costs, spurring
investment and supporting economic growth in Latin America's
fourth-largest petroleum producer.
The agency said it had raised Colombia's foreign currency
sovereign rating to its lowest investment grade status of
Colombia lost investment grade as a result of its 1999
economic crisis. Wall Street began to see a turn-around in the
country with the 2002 election of Alvaro Uribe, who used U.S.
military aid to beat back leftist rebels and improve security.
President Juan Manuel Santos, who came to office in August,
has continued popular security policies but also introduced
wide-ranging fiscal, economic and political reforms which were
praised by investors for attacking stubborn deficits.
The country is already enjoying a boom in oil and mining
investment as violence from its long war has eased.
Reforms include a plan to better distribute oil royalties,
use excess oil revenue to pay off debt and create a oil savings
fund to protect the economy during down times.
(Writing by Patrick Markey, Bogota newsroom; Editing by