Monday, May 29, 2017

Colombia-based Corona -- manufacturer of porcelain products, construction goods and majority partner in the “Home Center” retail chain -- on August 18 celebrated the 135th birthday of its founding in the Medellin suburb of Caldas, Antioquia.


The Antioquia departmental government’s investment agency (“IDEA”) announced August 15 the initial start-up of a 15-megawatt (MW) hydroelectric dam serving Alejandria, Concepcion and Santo Domingo – small municipalities roughly 50 kilometers to the east of Medellin.


Colombia’s national statistics agency (Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística, DANE) announced August 22 that exports from various free-trade zones (“zonas francas”) soared 85.7% year-on-year in June 2016, boosted by favorable peso-to-dollar exchange rates.


Medellin-based banking giant Bancolombia announced August 1 that with the recent financial close of the “Autopista Conexion Norte” fourth-generation (4G) highway project, it has now taken the lead among Colombian banks in terms of the total number of “4G” projects financed.


Textile and clothing trade group Inexmoda announced July 28 that the just-concluded Colombiamoda 2016 fashion-and-trade show in Medellin generated some US$399 million in new business deals, up 17% from last year’s edition.


High-tech product inventors, computer applications developers, pioneering investors and technophiles will get an opportunity to meet face-to-face August 20 in the first of a series of “Startup Expo” mini-trade-shows organized by local networking group “Aburra Valley,” which describes itself as a “Silicon Valley Paisa.”


Toronto, Canada-based PharmaCielo announced July 25 that it paid US$5 million plus 1.7 million in equity shares for a 27-hectares farm and greenhouse-nursery facility in Rionegro, Antioquia, for development of a medical-marijuana cultivation and processing plant.


Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos and Transport Minister Jorge Eduardo Rojas Giraldo announced July 22 that a 45-days-long national truckers’ strike – aggravated by acts of violence and vandalism against non-strikers -- has finally been settled, much to the relief of freight shippers and receivers.

According to the settlement agreement, the government will establish “clear procedures” to facilitate monetary compensation to small-business truckers that participate in the national “scrappage” (chatarrizacion) program, which aims to cut the current over-supply of trucks.

That program also would help Colombia get rid of old, high-polluting, mechanically unsafe trucks, which compete unfairly against costlier, modern, low-pollution, mechanically sound trucks.

The current “chatarrizacion” program has been plagued by corruption and schemes whereby old trucks weren't actually scrapped, but just relabeled or fitted with parts from other trucks, according to the government.

“Our country needs a system of freight transport that is just, transparent and efficient, so that [freight shippers] pay fair prices and truckers are guaranteed their rights,” added Transport Minister Rojas.

Key points in the settlement agreement:

1. An immediate end to the truckers strike that had been promoted by four national trucking trade groups.

2. Updating of a published list of “reference costs” including highway toll-charges, fuel costs and maintenance costs. In certain trucking routes where there is a “significant difference” between real costs and reference costs, the national government will establish a temporary price with the help of a “Cargo Observatory” expert study group.

However, Colombian regulations no longer will include a table of freight-cost charges that had been developed in prior decades. Instead, the new scheme will allow “supervised,” free-market freight charges along with published reference costs.

3. The “chatarrizacion” program will continue the current policy whereby for each old freight truck destroyed, one new freight truck can enter the Colombian trucking market.

Funding for the “chatarrizacion” program will ensure that small-business truckers can be compensated for scrapping their old vehicles “without corruption, without intermediaries, without mafias,” Minister Rojas added.

The deal also calls for truck-driver employees to be paid what they’re actually owed and be treated with "dignity" at loading and unloading sites including Colombia’s ocean ports, the Minister said. A new study will be launched to investigate other trucker risks, possible retirement programs and housing-subsidy programs, he added.


Medellin’s 59th annual Desfile de Silleteros (Flower-Carriers Parade) this year is expected to draw more than 800,000 in-person visitors -- plus hundreds of thousands of TV viewers -- for an event that provokes amazement, tears, elation and pride.


Medellin’s novel “Ruta N” high-tech development center next to Universidad de Antioquia now boasts that it’s hosting some 135-odd companies from 22 countries (see http://distritomedellin.org/hacer-parte/) that have chosen to locate inside Ruta N itself or nearby.


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SILLETEROS PARADE 2016 by JOHN AND DONNA STORMZAND (click to enlarge)

MEDELLÍN PHOTOS by Gabriel Buitrago (click to enlarge)

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About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

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