Interview with the Ambassador of the Republic of Colombia, Adriana Mendoza
Colombia today – and what are the prospects for the country? Something about the political situation – if you would like to.
With determination and governance, Colombia is tackling the effects of the current situation derived from the Covid-19 pandemic. We understand that foreign capital is a key enabler of growth and development for our country, and that it will have a fundamental role in the economic recovery once we have overcome this episode. This year we expect a rebound in the economy and, according to the World Bank projections, we will grow 5.9%.
We launched a forceful and effective economic reactivation plan for Trade, Industry and Tourism sectors, under the Government strategy know as ‘Commitment for Colombia’.
This plan features a specific set of incentives that will allow Colombia to stand out as a regional leader in terms of the attraction of foreign direct investment as well as a leading supplier of goods and services to the world.
Our main goal to attract foreign capital is based on three pillars:
- Investment facilitation tools and improving business climate.
- Attracting companies seeking to relocate their supply chains to bring them closer to consumers.
- The adoption of Strategic Sectoral and Regional Measures.
Global value chains are shortening due to the effect of the pandemic, which means that large multinationals are looking for suppliers closer to their consumers. This represents a great opportunity for Colombia and we are working to capitalize on this opportunity. Colombia´s location, incentives, and regulatory framework enable efficient relocation processes for large productive groups.
Which kinds of business opportunities are there in Colombia for Finnish companies?
Finnish entrepreneurs find in Colombia an export platform with access to the Americas, a domestic market with a population of 50 million inhabitants and a growing middle class with purchasing power. Colombia has highly qualified talent and a business network that allows strategic alliances.
Please, also explain us which kinds of investment opportunities there are for Finnish companies in Colombia?
Finnish companies will find in Colombia an excellent business partner in Latin America.
In our mission to facilitate the selection and implementation of appropriate ventures by potential investors, we have identified an impressive range of opportunities for them to consider in the following fields such as technology-based services; business process outsourcing (BPO); creative and cultural industries; cosmetics and personal care; health-related services, port infrastructure; film and music festivals; plastics and petrochemicals; metals; agrochemicals; pharmaceuticals; tourism infrastructure (hotels, theme parks, eco-tourism, adventure tourism); IT technology; trained workforce for outsourcing; production of coffee, cocoa, cereals, fruit and vegetables; vehicle parts and accessories, renewable-energy projects, among others.
If a Finnish company decides to invest in Colombia, what are the most important issues this enterprise must take into its consideration to succeed in the market?
There are some relevant aspects we suggest Finnish companies take into account to succeed in the Colombian market:
- The corporate regime in Colombia enjoys great stability and legal security. It is a stable legislation that has been modernized over time.
- Any investor that intends to develop their business in Colombia permanently must, as a general rule, constitute a legal vehicle, such as a company or a branch of a foreign company.
- Colombian commercial legislation is flexible and modern in corporate matters. This allows the creation of unipersonal investment vehicles.
- The legal process of incorporation of a legal vehicle is simple, and does not require government authorization.
Which kind of assistance and which kinds of incentives there are in Colombia for Finnish companies which would like to invest in Colombia?
Colombia is a country that offers a favorable business environment with a stable legal framework. Furthermore, the National Government has introduced several incentives to support and encourage foreign investment. These include our renewed free trade zone regime, customs duty reductions or exemptions for imported raw materials and machinery, VAT exclusions for imported equipment, incentives to invest in science, technology, and innovation, as well as incentives for several economic sectors, including agriculture, tourism, the creative/orange economy, the automotive industry, among others.
Which kinds of start-ups communities you have in Colombia – if a Finnish start-up company would like to start doing business in Colombia, is there any support for foreign start-ups?
If not – you can concentrate on describing the start-ups in Colombia.
As Latin America’s third largest economy, Colombia offers to entrepreneurs and startups immense opportunity, stability, and support. Both the culture and environment of startups in Colombia have been established under these three components. Through years of dedication and continued development, an admirable economic ecosystem for startups in Colombia has unveiled itself.
The tech startup fascination immersing Latin America and Colombia is relatively new compared to other regions and countries. However, its early stages have not been an impediment to achieve great levels of success. Specifically, startups in Colombia have served as pioneers for other startups in the region, and continue to thrive and grow within their economic sectors. Top tech startups in Colombia will serve as a glimpse into the world of successful entrepreneurship in the Andean country.
Another key aspect of the ecosystem around startups in Colombia is the level of institutionalized support, which comes in terms of financial, operational, and improving publicity and public relations. Initially, supporting the construction of Colombia’s startup empire was a government project. Today, Colombia focuses on improving its economic well-being, as well as engaging and educating its population. Therefore, Colombia’s government created entrepreneurial support programs to benefit national or foreign projects with development in the country.
How Colombia has benefited from the free trade agreements and the Agreement on Pacific Alliance?
Colombia’s Free Trade Agreements have enabled the country to make significant progress in its economy, as they have expanded the market of goods and services for Colombians. In addition, Free Trade Agreements strengthen the relations with partner countries, allowing the consolidation of bilateral and regional relations.
Currently, Colombia has an extensive free trade agreement network, which secures preferential access to more than 60 countries and 1.5 billion consumers around the world. On the other hand, it allows exporters to expand their businesses, compare their products with Global Supply Chains, and create new jobs.
The Pacific Alliance has brought great benefits to both Colombia and the region in many areas, such as the increase of foreign investment, the free movement of goods and services, the reduction of tariffs by 92%, the elimination of visas for both tourism and residency, considering the movement of people as key driving factor of growth and development for member countries.
Please, tell us more about the tourist attractions and holiday resorts in your country.
As Ambassador of Colombia to Finland, I would like to invite you not only to visit Colombia but to experience it.
To start, the cities in Colombia have plenty of attractions. Bogotá, the capital, enchants with mountains and museums. Medellin, impresses with its flower-filled plazas. Cali, delights with the sound of music as it is the world’s salsa capital. And Cartagena, captivates visitors as it is the jewel of the Caribbean coast.
Colombian wonders include tasting the best cup of coffee in the Colombian Coffee Triangle, hiking four days in the Lost City near Santa Marta, looking at the rainbow river at Caño Cristales, admiring the migration of humpback whales to Colombia’s Pacific coast, the pink river dolphins in the Amazon river. Furthermore, the appeal of the climate of Colombia as it offers generally unchanged seasons throughout the year due to Colombia’s proximity to the equator. In cities such as Medellín, the average annual maximum temperature is 27.0° Celsius (80.6° Fahrenheit), while the average annual minimum reaches 15.0° Celsius (59° Fahrenheit).
Please, tell your personal aims during your time as an Ambassador in Finland.
Finland is a key partner for Colombia. It is my wish to continue fostering the good historical relationship of friendship, mutual respect and cooperation that have existed between our two countries based on our shared values and principles.
Colombia is a rich nation in terms of culture, biodiversity, beautiful landscapes and a huge export offer. One of our main assets is the warmth and kindness of our people that makes every person feel welcomed and at home as soon as they arrive to Colombia.
During my tenure as Ambassador in Finland, I would like to continue working with our Colombian coffee farmers to bring the most exclusive and exquisite beans to the table of our Finnish friends and it is my desire to expand the offer of Colombian products such as textiles, handicrafts, cocoa, so as many more industries and products can be reached by everyone in the Finnish market.
I also wish to have the opportunity to discover the magical landscapes and natural attractions across this beautiful country, experience an Aurora Borealis trip, finishing with an authentic Finnish sauna!
the Ambassador of the Rebublic of Colombia
Pictures provided by the Embassy.
Questions by Ms. Anne Hatanpää, Secretary General of the Finnish Latin American Business Council