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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Colombia’s Free Trade Zones are Booming: Tax rates are not the only incentives



Colombia’s Free Trade Zones are Booming: Tax rates are not the only incentives

Point Roberts WA, NEW YORK, NY – July 21, 2015- Investorideas.com, a global news source covering leading sectors including Latin America releases the first in a series of articles on their recent trip to Colombia   PROCOLOMBIA, the government’s promotion agency organized a four day trip to showcase the ongoing transformation in Colombia and to show how global businesses are taking advantage of the many Tax Free Zones and the skilled labor offered.

We visited the Tax Free Zone of Rionegro and talked with Carlos A. Mesa Posada, Sara Valderrama Zapata and also had the opportunity to meet with two companies doing business there; Unisys (NYSE:UIS) and YachtCat.



*Office of Tax Free Zone of Rionegro, Colombia


*Entrance to Tax Free Zone of Rionegro

There are currently 771 companies operating in Free Trade Zones in Colombia, most of which are industrial.  The Tax Free Zones all offer the same tax rates and similar benefits but most companies choose based on geographic location.
The results speak to the heart of Colombia’s economy with over 50,000 direct jobs as a result.

One of the biggest values we heard over and over again, in particular for US companies, was the qualified skilled labor available and benefits of a very similar culture.

In addition to the usual access to banks, customs and airports, unique advantages at the Rionegro location are the abundant green spaces, the ability to purchase electricity in bulk at discounted prices and the SENA learning and training center.

Sectors located there include textile, chemistry, food, plastics, cosmetics and services. They are also seeing an increased interest in data centers.

When asked how they balance the priority of dominant green spaces with plastic and chemical companies on site, we were told that there are very clear and strict policies on how they manage waste and there is a very strong environmental commitment. Dangerous waste is sent to an authorized handler. They also noted that one of the qualifications to set up in the Rionegro location is to disclose everything that may potentially be hazardous to the land or water.

We met with Unisys CEO and PR Director for Latam. Unisys has service centers in Bogota and Rionegro, with both locations connected and supporting each other.  The location in Rionegro employs 350-370 people. The operations provide IT support, support services and processing for one of the largest banks in Colombia. They also provide support to human resources for customers.

Most evident was the high security features deployed at the location. Unisys uses state of the art biometrics including, fingerprint, multi-factor and soon to be used is their own iris system.  All of their biometric technology is developed by Unisys.

When asked ‘why here?’, Unisys said first and foremost they were able to  provide services to both inside and outside of Colombia with tax benefits and competitive price benefits.

Unisys has been in Colombia for 60 years and has clients with an average relationship of 15-20 years - some have been with them 40 years. In spite of some obstacles, they see Colombia as very stable politically and financially.

One of the biggest benefits they stressed was the “access to high qualified staff with a high level of education, in particular engineers.”

They also said they see Latin Americans “think more outside the box and they are more innovative.”

Another notable advantage is the time-zone; convenient and compatible with the U.S.

The second company on the tour at Rionegro was YachtCat, a company making custom-order large yachts. The company employs 45 people and has goals to grow its business. Currently they are working on a $2 Million custom luxury yacht bound for Pensacola, Florida when finished.

The CEO told us that he located his company there for the great engineer and hand labor skills, good weather and that the cost of labor and production was beneficial to his business. 

YachtCat is the only business of its kind in Colombia with its single focus being large yachts.


YachtCat, http://www.yachtcat.com, one of the companies visited at Free Trade Zone of Rionegro



*Colombia’s Free Trade Zones


Video: Investorideas.com meets with Zona Franca De Rionegro, Colombia. www.zonafrancarionegro.com


About PROCOLOMBIA:        
PROCOLOMBIA is the government promotion agency in charge of promoting trade, investment, tourism and country brand. For more information, please visit www.procolombia.co.

Recent interview with ProColombia's President Maria Claudia Lacouture:

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