The Business Year

By removing barriers to entry, Colombia's free zones allow international companies to benefit from its unique geography and rich stock of human talent.

Jorge Salamanca

Director, Zona Franca Metropolitana

We have two new companies, one a Brazilian technology company and the other a Colombian company engaged in wines and healthy beverages. The Brazilian company is one of the biggest technology companies in cloud computing and data centers. The Colombian company is establishing a new plant with tax benefits, while the other enjoys new free zone savings. Technology is important to attract companies to free zones, particularly connectivity and quality of professionals, specifically technicians and systems engineers. With regards to connectivity, Colombia has submarine cables from the US and Jamaica. And concerning the quality of human capital, Colombia has a high standard of technology professionals, such as technicians and systems engineers. Colombia seeks to be an attractive proposition for mining, oil, and commodities; however, it needs to legislate for value-added services. Free zones help the government attract new companies keen to build added value for themselves, as well as for other countries.

Juan Pablo Rivera

President, Zona Franca de Bogotá

It was an interesting year for us, in which we evaluated various countries and opportunities by business unit in real estate and free zone operators. We concluded that we may have some real estate opportunities in some of those markets. Accordingly, we made a small investment in Mexicali, Mexico, with an industrial park developer active in several areas of the country, including Tijuana, Mexicali, Bajio, Querétaro, and Mexico City. They invited us to initially participate in the project starting in Mexicali with a 20,000sqm warehouse development to be developed over the next two years. It marks our first international operation. We are also starting an investment in Costa Rica. On the operations side of free zones, we have defined our software for control and operation, which offers many advantages. We deal with over 70% of the free trade zone operators in Colombia with this software and are working toward digital transformation to encompass technologies such as robotics and AI.

Elizabeth Garcí­a

Manager, Elizabeth Garcí­a

ZFIP is located in the center of the golden triangle of Colombia, comprising Bogotá, Medellí­n, and Cali. Our location gives us better logistic times; from a city like Pereira, logistic costs can be up to 3.5% less compared to national logistics cost. That is a key aspect that we always highlight to our current and prospective clients. We have a commercial and marketing process that is constantly working on new customer acquisition. ZFIP must work hand-in-hand with the government, since we cannot be outside the strategies that the local government has implemented. Another factor that differentiates us is being able to access labor a few meters away. We have an industrial park of 27.3ha, and currently only 50% of the park is developed with infrastructure. We are in the process of developing the rest. ZFIP is a modern park, where companies can find the infrastructure, qualified personnel, and benefits of a free trade zone.

Margarita Marí­a Herrera

CEO, Zona Franca Santander (zfs)

Our accomplishment has been to offer the Santander region a globally competitive platform to attract new investments. Today, we have 54 companies that have created more than 1,200 jobs. We have received some important foreign and local investments in global services, logistics, and value-added products. Since the beginning of ZFS until December 2018, more than COP153,000 million (USD48 million) has been invested. For the third year in a row, we are positioned in The Global Free Trade Zone of the Year Ranking for training and personal development, and for supporting our installed companies to succeed. Beyond the commitment to have a positive impact in the three spheres of sustainability: economic, social, and environmental, ZFS’ mission is to lead shared social responsibility processes within the business park and encourage the involvement of other user companies to form a community of organizations committed to the generation of shared value and sustainability in all three areas.



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