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Congresses & Conferences 37

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by September 02 2019 0

Antioquian coffee growers, marketers, cooperatives, trade associations, educators, governments and the Medellin Chamber of Commerce for Antioquia (“CCMA” in Spanish initials) are brewing-up a remarkable initiative that aims to percolate a more-profitable “specialty coffee” business -- both locally and world-wide.

At the third “Café Fina Experiencia” conference August 28-29 at CCMA-Poblado here in Medellin, more than 300 attendees -- including coffee growers, processors, marketers, cooperatives, researchers, roasters, consultants, exporters, importers and international experts -- delved into the challenges and opportunities in specialty coffees.

That’s about triple the number of attendees to the first edition of “Café Fina Experiencia” -- an encouraging sign, indicating a potentially brighter future for an emerging class of more-sophisticated, more-entrepreneurial growers and marketers.

Given the tremendous growth of “Café Fina Experiencia,” 500 or more attendees probably will participate in the next edition, as “Café Don Tulio” owner Juan Leonardo Garzon Restrepo predicted in closing remarks here.

Numerous experts here cited a dead-end ahead for those producing “commodity coffees” that generate only about US$1 per pound (often less) for the “commodity” grower – or less-than half of today’s actual cost of production here in Colombia.

On the other hand, the specialty coffee market by some estimates is on pace to hit nearly US$40 billion/year globally, with the U.S. and Europe accounting for the bulk of that, as San Francisco-based coffee roaster specialist Floy Andrews of Bay Area Co-Roasters explained here. A recent analysis by Dallas-based Adroit Market Research added that the global specialty coffee business likely would hit more than US$83 biliion by 2025, up from an estimated US$36 billion in 2018.

Meanwhile in Germany, 900 local roaster operations and 72,000 specialty coffee shops have sprung-up around the country – and 82% of those shops are independent rather than chain outlets (such as Starbucks or Peets), as Ally Coffee market representative Nicole Pilz explained here.

The challenge is for Colombia's specialty coffee growers to get a bigger, sustainable share of those dollars. “People will pay for quality and brand and fair trade – but it’s very difficult to know how much is paid to the farmer,” Andrews pointed-out here.

'Circular Integration'

What local coffee growers need to create is what Selvadentro coffee consultant Arturo Arevalo termed here as “circular integration” – that is, cooperative alliances between specialty coffee growers, buyers, marketers, exporters, importers, roasters and retailers.

Such “circular integration” potentially could enable local growers stand-up to the “big five” global coffee traders who have gradually developed “vertical integration” – including strict cost and price controls from farming to processing to transport to roasting to retailing.

Today, it’s not enough to put “organic” or “rainforest” or “French roast” or “dark roast” or “mild” or country-of-origin labels on packaged coffees -- and then expect to see profits pour-in to coffee growers, who usually get the smallest portion of each dollar spent on a cup of coffee, as experts explained here.

Even the traditional “Juan Valdez” marketing image created over decades to promote Colombian coffee by itself isn’t delivering enough extra margin today to ensure the survival of "commodity" Colombia coffee farmers, according to the experts.

However, many more consumers -- especially in Europe, Japan, North America, and even in China -- increasingly are becoming aware of the many different flavors of different specialty coffees, which result from different types of coffee beans, different types of processing and different types of roasting, as experts explained here.

In addition, more younger-generation consumers are starting to demand to know what price is being paid to the coffee grower, as Ally Coffee's Pilz explained in a presentation here.

While traditional coffee-grower trade associations continue to lobby major retail marketers and giant international coffee buyers to pay higher, “fair trade” prices for all coffees (with insufficient results to date), there’s another pathway out of the “commodity-coffee” dead-end: convert more production to higher-margin, better-defined, better-branded specialty coffees, according to experts here.

That’s why CCMA and the “Coffee Cluster” of Antioquia are in the process of developing an initiative that ultimately aims to launch specifically recognized Antioquian specialty coffee brands -- along with new marketing opportunities -- for potentially thousands of formerly “traditional” coffee growers.

Too many smaller coffee growers today are stuck in the “commodity” coffee cycle, producing perhaps only one or two varieties at too-cheap prices, according to experts.

On the other hand, some more-sophisticated Antioquian growers already produce more than a dozen specialty varieties, including (for example) the ultra-high-margin, but relatively low-volume “Geisha” variety.

What’s more, some of these advanced growers are combining specialty coffee production and marketing with eco-tourism, as for example “La Virgen de Oro” (near Tamesis, Antioquia); “Café Don Tulio” (near Ciudad Bolivar, Antioquia); “La Palma y El Tucan” (in Cundinamarca); “Hacienda La Pradera” (in Santander); and the new “Red Ecolsierra” farm-and-ecotourism network (in the mountains above Santa Marta).

Bird Tourism Pairs With Specialty Coffee

“La Virgin de Oro” owner Jorge Mario Correa told Medellin Herald that besides the 16 specialty coffee varieties he’s producing and marketing, he’s now seeing ever-more growth in bird eco-tourism at his novel eco-farm, which attracts the threatened Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea)-- along with dozens of other species -- during the spectacular northern boreal migratory season to Colombia (October to April).

However, not every coffee farm should be considered suitable for eco-tourism, as upscale hotel infrastructure investment can be prohibitive for many farmers, as experts explained here.

Nor would it be wise for every farm to abandon production immediately of all “traditional” coffee and attempt a wholesale switch to exclusive production of certain higher-margin specialty varieties, experts warned. Not only would such a switch take years until first harvest (and first revenues), but also future margins on certain “trendy” varieties could be unpredictable -- and might not pay-off the original investment.

However, the new Antioquian specialty-coffees education, branding and marketing initiative spearheaded by the Coffee Cluster aims to help more traditional coffee farmers gradually dedicate more production to specialty coffees -- in order to boost profitability and sustainability, while also including dependable buyers.

While the Antioquia specialty coffee initiative is gaining steam, remaining challenges can include recruiting more specialty coffee retailers in higher-margin export markets, as Jerico, Antioquia coffee grower Sandra Castaño explained to Medellin Herald.

One successful example Castaño cited is the “Devocion” Colombian specialty coffee retailer in Brooklyn, New York, founded by Medellin native Steven Sutton.

Another challenge: developing the next generation of Antioquia specialty coffee growers, which explains the emergence of the “PEC” (Programa Educativa del Café) initiative, first organized in 2018 by CCMA along with the Café Cluster, Comfama, SENA, the Antioquian Coffee Committee (Comite Cafetera de Antioquia), the Laboratorio de Cafe and others.

As “PEC” program coordinator Liceth Meneses (CCMA) explained to Medellin Herald, the program aims to help the next generation of Antioquian coffee farmers learn about specialty varieties, as well as help them improve their entrepreneurial and technological skills -- which will include environmental sustainability methods.

On a parallel front, too many Antioquia coffee producers still have much to learn about boosting productivity, as “Solidaridad Network” consultant Carlos Isaza explained in a presentation here.

While labor represents more than 70% of the operating cost of coffee farming, just having cheaper labor -- as in Nicaragua, where coffee-farm day-labor is about one-third the cost of Colombian day-labor –  doesn't guarantee success, he showed.

Ironically, coffee farming is drastically declining in many cheap-labor Central American countries -- except for Costa Rica and Panama, where specialty coffee production and marketing rather than cheap labor has become a salvation for many farmers, he pointed out.

20 Antioquian Coffee Varieties

For the “Café Fina Experiencia” conferences, CCMA so far has catalogued some 20 different varieties of coffee produced in Antioquia, including Borbon, Castilla, Caturra, Variedad Colombia, Pajarito, Chiruso, Cenicafe1, Geisha, Matra Gojo, Catimor, Moka, Sudan Rume, Typica, Margogipe, Java, Arabica, Wush Wush, Catuai, Sl28 and Variedad 2000.

While most coffee farmers might produce only one variety, Medellin’s remaining rural districts still host more than 520 coffee producers, as Medellin’s secretary of economic develop Paula Andrea Zapata Galeano pointed out in a presentation here.

What’s more, another 93,000 coffee farms continue to operate in other areas of Antioquia, producing about 1.5 million bags (154 pounds per bag) per year.

Now, the challenge for many of these traditional farmers is how to convert to specialty coffee production -- and climb aboard a “circular integration” train to higher profitability.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by August 22 2019 0

Medellin’s city-owned “Plaza Mayor” convention center reported August 21 that its first-half (1H) 2019 revenues soared 43% year-on-year, to COP$13 billion (US$3.8 million).

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose to COP$3.7 billion (US$1.09 million), compared to an EBITDA net loss of COP$3 billion (US$884,000) in 2015, according to Plaza Mayor.

Expenses likewise were cut by 28% below budget this year, to COP$4.45 billion (US$1.3 million), “responding to a plan of austerity and prioritization raised to guarantee the sustainability” of Plaza Mayor, according to the organization.

As a result, net income came-in at a positive COP$1.2 billion (US$354,000) for 1H 2019, compared to a 1H 2018 net loss of COP$1.5 billion (US$442,000), according to the organization.

“Thanks to articulated work with allies, customers and suppliers, Plaza Mayor continues to consolidate itself as a responsible, solid and sustainable company,” according to the organization.

On a related front, BRC Investor Services S.A. securities qualification company recently issued a “BBB +” rating with a positive outlook for Plaza Mayor, due to “the best financial performance and the highest profitability in recent years, as well as strengthening of our market position, which reflects the increase in occupancy rates in our facilities,” according to Plaza Mayor.

Earlier this year, the Comptroller General of Medellín issued a favorable fiscal and financial evaluation report on Plaza Mayor for full-year 2018.

The Comptroller’s evaluation “highlighted aspects such as management control with 99.9% compliance, including timely and quality delivery [of financial reports], regulatory compliance in accounting, budgetary matters, tax regulations and effective compliance with the actions of the improvement plan for previous audits,” according to Plaza Mayor.

So far this year, Plaza Mayor has hosted several major events including the 49th General Assembly of the Organization of American States, the WCS World Cities Summit, Colombiatex and the Latin America Label Summit.

More recently, Plaza Mayor hosted Colombiamoda and the 75th ANDI Assembly (Colombia’s biggest business-industrial trade association), and is now preparing to receive more events including the Hass World Avocado Congress, the Fourth International Conference of UNESCO Learning Cities and the Summit Orange Economy conference, according to the organization.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by July 26 2019 0

Medellin-based textile and clothing industry trade group Inexmoda announced July 25 that the just-concluded, 30th annual “Colombiamoda” fashion show here generated sales deals estimated at US$143 million.

While that’s a 15% dip from last year’s Colombiamoda sales estimate, it’s still a positive sign for Colombia’s fashion industry, with Medellin and Antioquia continuing to lead the way.

According to Inexmoda, this year’s show included 11,800 buyers, 12% of which were internationals – mainly from the USA, Ecuador and México. Among the Colombian national buyers, most were from Antioquia, Cundinamarca and Valle del Cauca, according to the trade group. A parallel “Textiles2” show here included another 800 buyers.

In addition to the in-person attendance, another 70,000 people were able to tune-into Colombiamoda 2019 via internet, through a special “Concept Market” and “Colombiamoda Digital” channel.

This year’s edition included 25 fashion runway shows featuring Colombian designers and 206 models from 28 agencies, according to Inexmoda.

In another novelty this year, Inexmoda, Colombia trade promotion agencyProColombia and international package-delivery company FedEx organized a special show targeting international buyers of Colombian fashion designs.

On the education front for the show, Inexmoda and Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana attracted 8,700 in-person attendees and 6,000 internet streaming attendees for several lectures and workshops on issues affecting the fashion and textile industries.

A parallel fall-winter 2019-2020 fashion-trends "outlook forum" included 16 more lectures. In addition, a first-ever “prospectives forum” enabled 900 visitors to experience future design possibilities using artificial intelligence technologies provided by Microsoft.

Besides generating new business deals for fashion designers and clothing manufacturers, Colombiamoda 2019 generated an extra US$12 million in income for local hotels, restaurants and vendors, according to Medellin’s Secretary of Industry and Tourism.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by January 24 2019 0

The just-concluded, 31st annual “Colombiatex” textile and clothing trade show at Medellin’s Plaza Mayor convention center here generated an estimated US$481 million in sales expectations for 2019 – an estimated 26% jump over 2018 indications, according to show organizer Inexmoda.

Speaking to an overflow crowd of national and international journalists here January 24, Inexmoda president Carlos Eduardo Botero cited unusually heavy trade-show traffic starting from the first day of the three-day show.

In all, 22,482 people from 52 countries – including 14,424 buyers -- attended this year’s show, which occupied the entire Plaza Mayor facilities, spilling out into tents temporarily set-up in adjacent parking and staging areas.

That strong first day was a big indicator that Colombia’s textile and clothing industries – principally located in Medellin and Antioquia – are indeed recovering from the 2017 economic recession, Botero said.

Of the 508 companies with trade-show booths here this year, 61% were Colombian nationals (326 in total), with Antioquia dominating at 48%, followed by Cundinamarca/Bogota with 42%.

Of the 208 international exhibitors, 21% were from India, followed by Brazil (20%), Spain (13%), Italy (9%) and the USA (6%), he said.

Among the USA exhibitors was export trade specialist Cotton USA, a major show sponsor. According to the group, sales of U.S. cotton fibers to Colombian textile and clothing manufacturers had dropped sharply year-on-year during the 2017 recession. But 2018 preliminary data indicate a rebound, especially in the specialty “open-end” threads favored by Colombian manufacturers for certain blouses and higher-quality clothes.

Of the projected sales resulting from this year's show, 42% were for textiles, 20% for machinery, 15% for supplies, 8% in threads and fibers and 4% in high-tech systems, according to Inexmoda.

Botero added that the average sales tickets rose year-on-year, thanks to stronger economic indicators and also because of 1,300 specially organized, prearranged conferences between sellers and buyers.

Inexmoda, Colombia trade promotion agency ProColombia and the Medellin Mayor’s Office also organized a separate trade round for 65 international buyers, meeting with 170 Colombian sellers, focused mainly upon sportswear, work clothes, underwear and swimwear. Among the buyers: U.S.-based global entertainment giant Disney.

An additional group of 126 first-time Colombiatex buyers -- from 21 countries enjoying free-trade or low-tariff agreements with Colombia -- also enjoyed special access to national sellers, according to ProColombia vice-president Juliana Villegas.

A parallel “knowledge fair” organized by Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB) at the adjacent Teatro Metropolitano featured 22 conferences attended by 8,470 in-person and another 7,719 via streaming in cooperation with local TV station TeleMedellin. An additional 300 persons attended six other workshops here on practical aspects of fashion and marketing.

Meanwhile, a related “tendencies forum” included 11 expert sessions on the latest trends in textiles, accessories and denimwear, attended by another 2,000, while a “graphic arts market” special section featured the work of 21 Colombia graphic artists involved in novel fashion design.

Among the more unusual technologies displayed at this year’s show was a computerized scheme developed by Brazil-based Audaces, which employs “avatar” three-dimensional “virtual mannequins,” tied to computer-driven, customized clothing production.

The system aims to enable customers to enter a retail store, get fitted there for an “avatar” computerized body representation, then – using an in-store computer and screen -- choose from a pre-determined variety of styles, designs, colors and specifications for clothing, as Audaces international sales manager Eduardo Lopez explained to Medellin Herald.

This scheme could produce a final product at the factory in as few as 20 minutes, although delivery to the final customer would take more time -- perhaps a couple of days, and possibly involving home-delivery. Rollout of the complete system at Colombian retail stores hasn't yet happened, but it could become an attractive marketing scheme especially for larger chain retailers.

Several other novel companies here were promoting environmentally-friendly textiles (including organic cotton), which reduce impacts to water supplies from field-to-factory, as well as during subsequent clothes-washing cycles.

Another group of “Origin Colombia” companies were promoting products made-locally and-marketed-internationally, while a “private sale” section at the show featured the latest work of top local designers.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by October 12 2018 0

More than 1,540 in-person attendees this month at the 5th annual Medellin Bird Festival (Festival de las Aves Medellin 2018) October 3-6 got a bird’s-eye view of how companies, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) here are trying to find creative ways to balance environmental and economic conflicts.

The growing, annual Medellin Bird Festivals – increasingly covered by local, national and international media -- are organized by Sociedad Antioqueña de Ornitologia (SAO) and co-sponsored by the city of Medellin, the Antioquia departmental government and more than 20 private companies and organizations, including the environmentally responsible miner Continental Gold, national electric-grid operator ISA, EAFIT University, Parque Explora, Area Metropolitana del Valle de Aburra and Medellin Herald.

Perhaps no better example of efforts to reconcile environmental and economic conflicts was revealed in a lecture here on a just-concluded, three-year project to study, document, save and relocate threatened birds (and other wildlife) displaced by the gigantic “Hidroituango” hydroelectric dam project in Antioquia.

That hydroelectric dam -- when finally completed around 2021 -- is expected to supply more than 17% of the entire electricity demand in Colombia, providing zero-emissions power to millions of people, homes, buildings -- and a future surge of environmentally friendly electric vehicles.

Hidroituango also is seen crucial to economic futures, as the city of Medellin taps locally based, multinational power giant EPM for an astonishing 25% of its entire annual budget funding.

The Hidroituango environmental studies also ultimately led to the publication of a new book, “Aves del Cañón del Río Cauca” (Birds of the Cauca River Canyon), unveiled here by University of Antioquia and sponsored by EPM, the company building the gigantic Hidroituango power dam.

Among the threatened bird species in the canyon – upstream of the hydroelectric dam -- is the spectacular (and rare) Military Macaw (Ara Militaris), individuals of which have been nesting in cliffside rock cavities soon to be inundated by the rising Cauca River.

As EPM and University of Antioquia researchers explained here, wildlife-rescue experts in recent months have helped to remove and relocate some 40 macaw chicks from various nests – along with capturing and relocating some 2,000 other threatened birds in the area.

EPM meanwhile bought an 800-hectare property in nearby Buritica dedicated for wild-bird relocations, and also built a specialized tree-nursery project in the town of Ituango, which will provide crucial plants to help restore lost habitats.

As EPM noted in a post-Festival press release, “the Cauca River canyon in Antioquia is a marvelous place that hosts a variety of environments including tropical dry forest and humid, pre-montane forests, which provide homes to many species, including more than 300 bird species.

“This [Aves del Cañón del Río Cauca] book, in addition to other environmental studies and projects undertaken in conjunction with the Hidroituango project, shows the responsibility that EPM assumes in social and environmental management,” the company added.

Medellin’s ‘Green Corridors’ Project

On a related front, Medellin’s Infrastructure Planning Secretary Silvia Gómez García explained here how the city has just transformed more than 30 heavily trafficked and building-congested areas into “green corridors” in recent months, in a COP$45 billion (US$14 million) project involving the planting of hundreds of trees, bushes and flowers.

Probably the most dramatic example of this is the conversion of the cement “pyramids” formerly bisecting the downtown Avenida Oriental corridor into a spectacular array of tropical flowers, trees and bushes, attracting butterflies and other wildlife, she noted.

Such projects not only improve wildlife habitat but also help to provide a heat sink to cement deserts that unfortunately have over-run Medellin – the “City of Eternal Spring” --over the past 50 years.

Assuming that future Mayors continue this “green corridor” initiative launched by current Mayor Federico Gutierrez, then it’s possible to envision future “green” connections between Medellin’s main green parks (Cerro Nutibara, Cerro El Volador, Parques del Rio, Parque Arvi) to the green mountains east and west of Medellin and adjacent cities in Valle de Aburra, Gomez noted.

Likewise, Medellin metro council of governments (Area Metropolitano del Valle de Aburra, AMVA) subdirector Maria del Pilar Restrepo noted in a presentation here that adjacent municipalities are taking similar steps to improve green spaces for birds and wildlife, including a regional project that is part-way toward the goal of planting and maintaining more than 1 million new trees.

Other outstanding presentations here included workshops on the “Merlin” cell-phone bird-identification application by Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology researchers Drew Weber and Karen Purcell; a progress update on Medellin’s outstanding “Alto de San Miguel” nature reserve in neighboring Caldas municipality; and an update on the just-launched, second-edition “Guia Fotografica de Las Aves del Valle de Aburra” (Photographic Guide to the Birds of the Aburra Valley) published by AMVA and Parque Arvi, in cooperation with Sociedad Antioqueña de Ornitologia.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by September 27 2018 0

More than 500 attendees from 11 nations attending the “Second International Conference on Electric Mobility” in Medellin September 25-26 heard from dozens of international and national experts on the need to speed-up the nascent adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) here.

Such an acceleration of EV adoption would slash air pollution, improve public health, reduce energy-import dependence and cut "global warming" emissions, according to expert speakers here.

Meanwhile, “range fear” – a crucial consumer issue that heretofore has hobbled EV adoption -- is declining, as Colombia now has two EVs offering 300-kilometers autonomy between recharges – the Renault "Zoe" five-passenger sedan, sold at COP$99 million/US$33,000, and the BMW “i” sedan, at COP$150 million/US$50,000.

What’s more, China-based BYD is now offering a 400-kilometers autonomy “E5” five-passenger sedan in Colombia, at COP$107 million/US$35,600. Having first launched sales in Bogota, BYD is now debuting a new-car showroom and maintenance shop in Medellin, due in October.

Nissan also has its prior-generation, 200-kilometer-autonomy “Leaf” available here at COP$117 million (US$39,000). But the company hasn’t yet decided whether to launch a longer-autonomy version for Latin America next year.

In addition, Medellin-based national motorcycle assembly and marketing giant Auteco is offering several varieties of “Starker” electric motorcycles and bicycles, at prices that would seem to be affordable even for low-income individuals and families.

However, “e-motorcyles” and “e-bikes” would be even more attractive to lower-income families if Colombia eliminated import taxes and value-added taxes on such vehicles -- and if governments incentivized wider construction and deployment of public "e-motorycle" recharge stations, according to the company.

Auteco sold more than 4,000 EV motorcycles in Colombia last year – a drop in the bucket compared to the 8 million gasoline-fueled motorcycles in Colombia, however. What’s more, the Medellin metro area is now hosting more than 700,000 motorcycles, accounting for the single biggest chunk of air pollution among all types of vehicles.

Gasoline-engined motorcycles of less-than-125-cubic-centimeters displacement account for more than 95% of Colombian motorcycle sales, as these enjoy tax exemptions. Problem: Such motorcycles are not only cheap, but also relatively "dirty" in tailpipe emissions.

The annual Electric Mobility conference, this year in Medellin -- organized by the United Nations-accredited World Energy Council (WEC) -- aims to help nations and municipalities overcome environmental, economic, energy and social problems caused by pollution from internal combustion engines (ICEs).

In a keynote presentation here, WEC-Colombia chapter president Jose Antonio Vargas -- who's also the president of Italy-based power giant Enel’s “Codensa” power subsidiary in Colombia -- cited enormous public-health costs of air pollution, especially cardiopulmonary diseases triggered by ozone and particulate matter (PM) emissions mainly from vehicles in cities.

But there’s hope on the horizon, as zero-emissions EV costs are falling in concert with the plunging cost of the most expensive component: batteries. This would make EV cars and motorcycles attractive to vast numbers of middle-class and lower-income Colombian families, he showed.

In 2018, EV battery costs were 43% of the total cost of electric cars, at around US$240 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), Vargas showed.

However, that’s down from US$400/kWh only four years ago – and battery costs are seen falling to around US$100/kWh sometime between 2025 and 2030, making EVs cost about the same as ICE cars, he showed.

Meanwhile, big cities including Medellin are facing ever-worsening air-pollution crises mainly caused by ICE vehicle pollution, with a new alert just issued for the month of October.

As a result, the Area Metropolitana del Valle de Aburra (AMVA, the Medellin metro council of governments) just expanded “pico y placa” orders banning circulation of ICE vehicles during certain hours, with vehicle rotations based on odd/even license plate numbers.

The “pico y placa” restriction exempts zero-emissions EVs. But that exemption is only one of a very few Colombian local or national government incentives for EV purchases. As a result, today’s EV incentives aren’t nearly big enough to encourage faster turnover of ICE fleets to EVs, Vargas argued.

While China is leading the world in massive EV production, development, deployment and government incentives, in Latin America, Chile is taking the regional lead toward EV adoption, as a law first adopted in 2014 imposes a US$1,000 extra charge on gasoline and diesel-fueled vehicles -- while electric power tariffs are cut 30% for EV owners recharging at night, he noted.

While home- or office-based charging accounts for the vast majority of EV recharges everywhere in the world, Chile has rapidly expanded public-access charging as well. What’s more, the Chilean government offers subsidies of up-to-US$8,000 for purchase of EV taxis, and the city of Santiago is moving to replace old, “dirty” diesel buses with 2,000 electric buses by 2025, he showed.

Neighboring Ecuador also offers relatively hefty incentives for EVs including restrictions on ICEs for inner-city travel, exemptions from value-added tax and import duties, and elimination of the former limit of 1,000 EV imports per year. As a result, Ecuador now expects that at least 22% of all new cars bought there by 2032 will be EVs.

As for Colombia, the only incentives for EV purchases are a reduction in value-added tax (to 5% instead of 19%) on new EV cars. However, the government is only allowing the duty-free import of 1,500 EVs per year, greatly restricting market access.

Ironically, the national electric-power planning agency (UPME) has set a goal to require at least 400,000 EVs in Colombia during the next decade. Yet at the same time, other government agencies are severely restricting EV imports or delaying imports via cumbersome reporting regulations, experts pointed-out here.

Meanwhile, Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez announced September 13 that the city aims to have "streets free of ICE vehicles by 2030," and newly elected Colombia President Ivan Duque is promising to promote “massive” deployment and use of EVs in Colombia.

However, only 754 EVs were bought in Colombia last year, out of a total passenger vehicle fleet of 5.8 million cars and 8 million motorcycles, WEC’s Vargas noted.

Today’s EV passenger sedans in Colombia can cost two-to-three times as much as comparable ICE cars, although future EVs are likely to be much cheaper within about five to seven years, he said.

However, Colombia’s cities can’t wait to crank-up the battle against choking air pollution, he said.

Which is why government agencies should move to eliminate value-added tax on EVs through 2030, eliminate limits on tariff-free imports, impose higher taxes on dirty fossil fuels and vehicles, speed-up adoption of electric transit buses, public-fleet vehicles and taxis, move to impose much-tougher “Euro-6” tailpipe emissions limits, allow companies and individuals to deduct the cost of EV recharge stations against taxable income, require public EV recharge stations to be included in new buildings, require builders of the new “4G” inter-departmental highways to install public EV recharge stations, and allow EV owners to enjoy a discounted annual vehicle-circulation-tax, he said.

Medellin ‘E-Taxi’ Plan Hits Snag

On a related front, Medellin’s plan to have 1,500 EV taxis by 2020 has hit a snag as project participant EPM pulled-back on earlier promises to subsidize the scheme – due to financial problems arising from the troubled “Hidroituango” hydroelectric plant in Antioquia.

In a post-presentation interview here, EPM commercial director Juan Rafael Lopez confirmed to Medellin Herald that the “Hidroituango” problem forced the electric utility to cut funding for the proposed E-taxi project -- with the result that multi-party “structuring” discussions are now trying to unblock the project with alternative schemes.

In a separate interview following his presentation here, Medellin Mobility Secretary Humberto Iglesias told Medellin Herald that the multi-party discussions are considering a new, two-tiered tariff structure that would allow “green” EV taxis to charge higher fares than the “yellow” gasoline-powered taxis.

While many taxi customers are seen likely to choose the cheaper (and higher-polluting) “yellow” taxis, there will be portions of the Medellin population that would prefer “green” taxis -- just as some Medellin residents already choose to pay higher fares for “Uber” taxis, he explained to us.

Meanwhile, the explosive growth in relatively high-polluting gasoline motorcycles in Medellin over the last 10 years can be explained in part by the low cost of such transport, he said. A Medellin resident earning Colombia’s minimum monthly salary today would pay about 30% of that salary for local public transport -- but only 22% of that salary for motorcycle transport, he said.

One remedial measure being considered is a possible scheme to ban access to the city center by polluting gasoline motorcycles. This would encourage such motorcyclers to migrate to zero-emissions public transport or else zero-emissions EV motorcycles, he added.

Another proposed scheme (since discarded) was expansion of the current 19,000 limit on taxi licenses in Medellin to include paired, “green” EV taxis. That proposal would have allowed individual license owners to add an EV to their existing operating permit -- and then scrap the “paired” gasoline taxi after three years, leaving the "green" E-taxi to take its place.

Problem: Taxi owners complained that this proposed scheme would have expanded supply for taxi services in Medellin without increasing demand, hence lowering daily revenues. In addition, the city doesn’t want to expand the vehicle fleet in street-congested Medellin by lifting the current 19,000 limit on taxis to include more "green" taxis, Iglesias added.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by September 06 2018 0

Colombia’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (“MinCit”) announced September 5 that the “Colombia Travel Expo 2018” at the Hotel Intercontinental in Medellin this week is seen generating at least COP$15 billion (US$4.8 million) in immediate business deals.

Meanwhile, the recently concluded “Expocamacol” building-construction trade show at Medellin’s Plaza Mayor convention center – attended by more than 18,000 registrants -- generated another US$22 million in immediate business deals (double that of the 2016 show), with likely tens of millions of dollars more in future construction business deals for Medellin, Antioquia and Colombia generally, according to trade-promotion agency ProColombia.

What’s more, Medellin’s hotels, restaurants and taxis netted more than US$12 million from the surge in tourism during “Expocamacol,” according to the agency.

“Expocamacol 2018 has an international reputation as the most specialized trade-fair [for the -building-construction sector] in Latin America,” added Camacol Antioquia general manager Educardo Loaiza Posada.

In total, the Expocamacol show occupied 11 pavilions at Plaza Mayor, with 410 exhibitors from 20 countries taking 24,000 square meters of show-floor space, attending 239 international buyers from 26 countries as well as hundreds of Colombian buyers.

Panamá, Ecuador, Peru and the USA were the four countries making the largest business deals, according to Camacol.

Meanwhile, for the “Colombia Travel Expo,” MinCit cited Fontur statistics indicating that 224 travel-related agencies and 150 sellers of “destination packages” had already set-up some 2,040 business appointments.

Some 10,000 registered attendees will visit with some 430 exhibitors at “Colombia Travel 2018,” which is mainly focused upon cultural- and nature-oriented tourism, according to MinCit.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by July 17 2018 0

Medellin-based textile-fashion industry trade group Inexmoda reported July 26 that the just-concluded, 29th annual “Colombiamoda” show at Plaza Mayor generated sales deals worth US$169 million.

While that was about 6% short of what organizers had initially hoped for this year's edition, it's nevertheless a generally positive sign, given relatively weak economic conditions that have pinched regional clothing demand over the past couple of years, according to Inexmoda.

Some 500 entrepreneurs -- 84% Colombian nationals (with Antioquia the biggest single group) and 16% international – cut deals with some 11,000 buyers from 40 countries at this year's show. Ecuador (17% of international buyers), Mexico (15%) the United States (14%) and Peru (9%) were the biggest groups of foreign buyers, according to Inexmoda.

For the total 27,200 visitors to the show, highlights included demonstrations and fashion parades from 46 major fashion designers and 10 commercial brands, according to Inexmoda.

In this year’s special graphic-arts design section at the show, 25 artists “expressed the latest trends in finished product graphics,” via four special conferences and two workshops attended by 150 potential customers.

“Taking advantage of the digital transformation that is currently happening, for this edition of Colombiamoda, a ‘Business Agenda Platform’ was organized for the first time, featuring a web portal where 11,000 national and international buyers could make 409 appointments with the 500 exhibitors” at the show, according to Inexmoda.

A parallel “Business Conference of New Technologies” organized by Colombia’s Ministry of Technology, Information and Commerce and the ProColombia export agency brought together 30 exporters of information technology and digital content related to the fashion industry. These exporters connected with some 78 entrepreneurs in the industry, generating business expectations of US$1.1 million, according to Inexmoda.

Meanwhile, the Inexmoda "Knowledge Pavilion" – organized by Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana – attracted 12,138 live attendees 4,051 others via internet streaming for expert talks on the latest in fashion and consumer-demographic trends this year.

Besides generating hefty sales deals for clothing designers and manufacturers, the show also netted the city of Medellin an estimated US$9 million in hotel, restaurant and transportation revenues, according to Medellin’s Secretary of Industry and Tourism.

The 2018 edition of the show included the latest clothing designs from Exito's "Arkitect" brand at the opening, Isabel Henao designs at the closing, as well as renowned Andrés Pajón, Camilo Álvarez, Andrea Landa and SOY collections, “among the great figures on the catwalks of ‘La Semana de la Moda’ in Colombia,” according to the show organizer.

"Arkitect" fashion designer Custo Barcelona developed a line that "continues to democratize fashion, including clothing production 100% made-in-Colombia,” according to Inexmoda.

Other veteran designers on the fashion agenda this year included Diego Guarnizo and María Luisa Ortiz (presented by The Foundation for Women AVON); Andrés Pajón, Camilo Alvarez and Andrea Landa (presented by Chevrolet); and ALADO, celebrating 10 years of fashion-industry trajectory, according to the group.

Emerging designers featured at “El Cubo” included Geraldine Lustgarten, Kinira Swimwear, La Mar, Vana, Beat-a-bee and Afrikans, while other young designers such as Alexandra Bueno, Rocío Borré (with her trademark “Bahamamama” beach wear), María Alejandra Cajamarca (with her “Bahía María” swimwear) separately were featured at a “Nonstop Moda” event.

International clothing designer GEF returned to Colombiamoda this year, along with other major brands including Offcorss, Maaji, Ann Chery, Chamela, Trucco's Jeans, Carmen Steffens and People, according to Inexmoda.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by January 26 2018 0

Inexmoda -- the Medellin-based national trade group for Colombia’s textile and fashion industry – announced January 25 that the 30th annual “Colombiatex” show here generated new business deals likely to top US$356 million, surpassing last year’s estimate of US$326 million.

In total, 36% of the dollar value of projected new-business deals here involved purchase of textiles; 28% involved machinery, 19% in feedstocks other than fibers; 10% in fibers, and 7% in “other” supplies.

In all, 22,653 people from 60 nations attended this year’s version of Colombiatex – up 3% year-on-year – among which were 14,023 commercial buyers, 13% of those international. Among the internationals, 28% came from Ecuador; 10% from Mexico and 8% from the USA.

During the three-day event (January 23-25), Colombiatex once again cemented its position among Latin America’s leading textile-industry trade shows -- with growing evidence of renewed industry optimism this year, following a difficult 2017, when Colombian consumers were hit by higher retail value-added (IVA) taxes and an economic slow-down, as noted in a closing press conference by Inexmoda president Carlos Eduardo Botero.

This year’s show over-flowed the entire Plaza Mayor inside-space capacity, spilling into tented staging-areas adjacent -- resulting in more-than 12,000 square meters of commercial show area for the 579 exhibitors from 22 countries.

Brazil – which in December 2017 approved a two-way, free-trade agreement with Colombia, eliminating duties on textiles and clothing -- led the field in international exhibitors (21%), with India second (19%) and Spain third (10%), according to Inexmoda.

“The Colombiatex model gives us a very positive cost-benefit and the [participating] companies are very satisfied, especially given the new agreement between Mercosur nations [Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina] and Colombia, which stimulates bilateral trade relations,” added Rafael Cervone, executive director of the Texbrasil textile promotional group.

In addition to the surging crowds and bigger buying deals, Colombiatex also hosted 21 lectures on industrial, technical, social, environmental, marketing and fashion trends -- organized by Medellin’s Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB) and attended by 7,300 in-person, plus another 6,700 via internet streaming to international audiences, thanks to live broadcasts by local TV station Telemedellin.

Another nine “trends-forum” sessions here attracted 1,038 attendees for special insights into textile and fashion concepts, while 10 other workshops examined emerging challenges facing textile and clothing manufacturers.

Meanwhile, a concurrent “fashion system business roundtable” organized by the Mayor of Medellin and business-promotion agency ProColombia brought-together 161 local exporters and 85 international buyers, generating an estimated US$9 million in additional business deals.

Yet another new feature to this year’s edition of Colombiatex included 32 independent graphic and visual artists who showed their designs and explained the latest technical trends in graphics, colors and textures. Meanwhile, “Denim Day” demonstrations -- now a leading feature at Colombiatex -- showed the latest innovations in design and manufacture in jeans-wear.

Finally, according to figures provided by the Medellin Mayor’s office, each foreign attendee to Colombiatex this year was estimated to have spent (on average) about COP$2,416,320 (US$858) per day in hotel, meals, transport and other expenses, with a net economic benefit to the city of about US$12 million.

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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.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

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