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Exporting to Colombia: challenges, opportunities and entry strategy

Right after Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, Colombia is the fourth largest economy in Latin America. It is one of the only countries in South America with two coasts: the Pacific and the Caribbean. This provides global investors with a great shipping advantage. It has also had sustained economic growth and moderate inflation that makes it a promising market to export to Colombia. There are also five different shopping centers in the country.

With all these positive points, it stands as the most recent and emerging market that gives global companies a great opportunity to venture. Here, let’s discuss how to export to Colombia – the challenges, opportunities and strategies:


• The existing governmental framework requires open tenders and public tenders. There could be a lack of transparency and fairness in tenders.

• Second, only firms registered under Colombian law were authorized to provide legal services. International law firms had to form a joint venture with a local law firm.

• To bid on Colombian government contracts, commercial presence was a requirement.

• For international banking there is a requirement to maintain a commercial presence in the country. Insurance companies have restrictions when it comes to providing policies under certain conditions where insurance policies are not considered equivalent to bank guarantees.


Despite all the challenges faced, Colombia offers global companies a wealth of opportunities. Let’s analyze a few here:

• Planned infrastructure projects in Colombia will require most or all of the following services. Project financing, public works subcontracting, logistics, construction equipment for public roads and airports.

Some other areas of interest to international investors could be water treatment, water supply, electric power generation, oil and gas exploration, and pollution control equipment. Transportation equipment, security and defense items and services are also in high demand here.

• Airport services and upgrading of existing infrastructure are seen as a great opportunity for foreign investment here.

• The key sectors that have always attracted the attention of commerce in Colombia are: oil and gas, petrochemicals, renewable energy, telecommunications and refineries.

• Other export opportunities include cotton, wheat, corn, soy products, auto parts, food and beverage processing, and more.

• Packaging equipment and medical equipment are also in high demand here.

Entry strategies:

Before going into details on how to export to Colombia, it is equally important to analyze your market entry strategies. Here are some tips:

• An agent or representative or distributor in Colombia would be your best option. This requires a suitable contract to comply with the Colombian Commercial Code.

• It is essential to negotiate contacts with confidence and a professional relationship.

• You can offer excellent after-sales service as a strategy.

• Affordable financing and competitive prices could be the key to your entry compared to others competing for the same.

• Attending trade shows and advertising could be a perfect way to get noticed.

• Finally, it is essential to be able to communicate in Spanish.

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