Market Spotlight: Colombia

Date: 29/01/2019
Author: GMCC
Company: GMCC

When UK companies are looking to export or invest, it is fair to say that neither Latin America or Colombia will immediately jump out as a potential export, import or investment destination. 

Colombia is known in the news for having the longest civil war in the history of the world, as well as people such as Pablo Escobar, which in the past, positioned the country as the leader of exporting illicit drugs. However, Colombia has gone through a major transformation in the past decades.

Unfortunately, despite the positive changes across Latin America and a growing number of business opportunities for UK Companies, trade with Colombia is still almost non-existent.

It is the Chamber’s goal to make UK Companies aware of the opportunities Colombia offers. Colombia is the third largest country in Latin America with a population of 49 million people and the fourth largest economy in Latin America, achieving 4% average growth per year in the last decade. With more than 16 trade agreements in force, Colombia is one of the most open markets in the region – enabling access to more than 60 countries and almost 1,500 million consumers.

According to Euler Hermes, the risk for companies operating in Colombia is “medium” (BB1) – as the country enjoys political stability and the World Bank ranked Colombia 65th worldwide and 2nd in Latin America for ‘Ease of Doing Business’.

Colombia has been through a lot of political and economic reforms to increase business confidence and quality of life – this has resulted in a larger middle class and a decreased poverty rate. Many UK businesses and foreign brands have picked Colombia for its skilled labour force and friendly business environment. Although the rule of law and control of corruption remain areas of concern, Colombia is a pro-business environment and positioned itself as the fourth friendliest destination in Latin America to do business and was part of the top 30 destinations for Foreign Direct Investments.

Currently, UK companies benefit from trade agreements between the European Union, Colombia and Peru allowing them to get preferential rates. It appears that Colombia is seen as one of the key markets to secure an agreement with in the run-up to Brexit as Liam Fox, International Trade Secretary, has been meeting with the Colombia trade minister as part of a series of high-level meetings with various countries at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week (Department for International Trade Press Release, 2019). UK companies operating in Colombia work predominantly in the Oil, Gas, financial services, beverages, pharmaceutical, machinery, chemicals and environmental services - leaving scope for much growth across other sectors as well.

Greater Manchester Chamber has a network of partners across the world, including Colombia. If you are interested connecting with opportunities, gaining information advice and Market Entry Services email us at exportbritain@gmchamber.co.uk.

The Chamber has also partnered with DIT Colombia, the Prosperity Fund and ProColombia to bring you a dedicated event about how to achieve success in the Colombian market on the 25th of February, book on here.