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Congresses & Conferences 41

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by February 07 2020 0

Foreign investment promotion agency ProColombia announced February 6 the upcoming launch of its annual “Business Matchmaking Forum” at Medellin’s Plaza Mayor convention center -- expected to attract more than 3,000 entrepreneurs along with hundreds of international corporate buyers.

The event (see: https://www.macrorruedasprocolombia.co/macrorrueda80/), “is one of ProColombia’ s most relevant promotional activities,” said ProColombia President Flavia Santoro.

“International buyers from all over the world will have the opportunity to see a great sampling of Colombia’s export offerings in the agribusiness, technology, manufacture and apparel sectors. North American companies, which can take advantage of the free trade agreement with Colombia, will find a competitive offer of goods and services in our country,” Santoro added.

Five industrial/commercial sectors are represented.

For the ag sector, offerings include aquaculture and fisheries, beef and pork, fruits and vegetables, and flowers.

The apparel sector will feature leather goods, footwear, bathing suits, undergarments and other types of clothing.

For the “industry 4.0” (high-tech) sector, there will be digital and information tech services as well as software development services.

The chemical, industrial and consumer-goods sector will feature cosmetics, packaging and containers, pharmaceutical products and hospital equipment.

Finally, the manufacturing sector will include construction materials, auto parts, furniture, wood and more.

As for buyers, “among those expected to attend are large retail chains, supermarkets, department stores, state companies and distributors, as well as recognized international marketers who sell directly to the final consumer,” including e-commerce vendors, according to ProColombia.

Last year’s version of the Matchmaking Forum generated more than 10,000 business meetings, “which led to tangible business contacts worth US$400 million, 28% more than in 2018,” according to ProColombia

During the 2019 event, 937 buyers from 52 countries “had the opportunity to meet Colombian talent, represented by 2,097 entrepreneurs from 25 Colombian departments,” according to the agency.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by January 23 2020 0

Medellin-based Inexmoda – the international trade group for textiles and clothing – announced January 23 at the conclusion of the 32nd annual “Colombiatex” trade show here that anticipated sales deals soared to US$753 million -- up drastically from US$480 million last year.

The huge jump came even despite an anti-government protest march in Medellin (and also in Bogota), which blocked a few streets -- but otherwise had no impact on traffic through the vast Plaza Mayor convention center here.

In total, 546 exhibitors from 21 countries showed off their technologies, products and environmental sustainability efforts -- 328 of which came from Colombia. Of those, 46% were from Antioquia , 44% from Cundinamarca and 6% from Valle del Cauca, according to Inexmoda.

“The commercial exhibition was visited by 13,682 buyers, of which 12,587 were Colombians from regions including Antioquia (48%), Cundinamarca (20%) and Valle del Cauca (5%). In addition, 1,542 international buyers visited the event from countries including Ecuador (21%), Peru (17%) and Mexico (13%), among others,” according to the trade group.

The show also featured 114 brands touting “100% Colombian” products and services, including 18 innovative graphic designers in a special “Graphic Market” section.

Businesses in the city of Medellin nabbed another US$9.4 million in hotel, transport and restaurant sales, while hotel occupancy soared to 91% during the three-day show.

“According to studies by the research firm Invamer, business expectations are US$753 million, of which 56% materialized during the event and 44% could be achieved during the year following the event. The categories that activated these business deal were textiles (43%), machinery (12%), chemical inputs (11%), complete package (8%) and textile fibers (6%),” according to Inexmoda.

“There was an increase in the average [sales deal] ticket of 71%, which means an increase in the intention to purchase at Colombiatex 2020," the group added.

The exhibitors jammed every available corner of the 11,000 square meters available at Plaza Mayor, with India, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Turkey, Pakistan and the USA predominating among the internationals.

Environmental sustainability was a key theme at this year’s edition, with many companies touting initiatives to slash water consumption, reduce waste, recycle fabrics, convert waste plastics to fabrics, and to employ biodegradable chemicals.

“Environmental sustainability is not an option for organizations, it is an obligation,” as Inexmoda CEO Carlos Eduardo Botero stated at the closing press conference. “We are entering an era where the economic sustainability of companies will depend on their environmental sustainability,” Botero added.

A related “trends forum” series of lectures here focused on spring-summer 2020 fashions, attracting some 2,000 attendees.

Beyond the trade-show and “trends-forum” stages, Colombiatex also featured 29 speakers on longer-term fashion, cultural, market and trading tendencies affecting the textile and clothing industries, in collaboration with Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB). An estimated 7,000 persons attended those lectures either in-person at the adjacent Teatro Metropolitano or via internet streaming, according to Inexmoda.

In one such presentation, Coronel Oscar Cortes, sub-director of Colombia’s National Tax and Customs Police, revealed that an estimated US$3 billion worth of contraband textiles, clothes and footwear entered Colombia last year -- with a huge negative impact on domestic textile producers.

“Corruption is always involved in contraband,” Cortes explained, adding that National Police have arrested many corrupt customs officials involved in such scams.

Despite a discouraging amount of illegal imports, Colombia’s National Tax and Customs Police are nevertheless making headway against contraband, seizing 11.9 million clothing items last year, up 12% year-on-year, he revealed.

Customs Police also intercepted 1.8 million square meters of textiles -- a 353% increase year-on-year. Another 933,000 pairs of contraband shoes were seized, up 28% year-on-year, he said.

Nearly all of this contraband arrives in shipping containers. Although Colombia inspects about 10% of these containers -- and has arrested many members of criminal groups involved in such trafficking -- more efforts are required to slash contraband volume, he conceded.

Narcotraffickers are often involved in such contraband, by laundering  U.S. dollars and Euros (which they obtain from cocaine exports) through China in exchange for contraband clothing, which then turns into “laundered” Colombian pesos upon sales in Colombia, he explained.

One effort to cut such contraband is the recent creation of “legal commercial zones” (or “ZCLs” in Spanish initials), mainly in Medellin, Bogota and Cali, where 551 clothing retailers are already registered and certified for the program, he added.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by January 10 2020 0

Medellin-based international textile/fashion trade group Inexmoda announced January 8 a new alliance deal with Germany’s Messe Frankfurt for the April 27-29, 2021 debut of the “Heimtextil” trade fair at Medellin’s Plaza Mayor convention center.

“Heimtextil is the most important world event in the industry and the largest international trade fair for the textile sector, held since 50 years ago in Frankfurt,” according to Inexmoda.

“Trends and innovations for the most attractive categories of the sector will be shown [at the 2021 fair], such as clothing, ‘smart’ bedroom fare, bathroom fashions, carpets and rugs, wall decorations, decorative fabrics, 'smart' textiles and textiles for the hospital sector.

“Heimtextil Colombia expects to receive more than 100 exhibitors from countries including Portugal, Spain, Colombia, Italy, Turkey and France, as well as visitors from the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Colombia, among others.”

“With Heimtextil Colombia we are expanding our portfolio of trade fairs to a region that is currently doing very well in terms of tourism and hospitality and, therefore, offers great possibilities for business in this sector,” added Olaf Schmidt, vice president of textiles for Hemtextil.

“With Inexmoda we are happy to have a strong partner on our side that organizes trade fairs with great success in Latin America in the fashion sector,” Schmidt added.

Published in Congresses & Conferences Written by December 07 2019 0

Medellin – the epicenter of Colombia’s mainly “green” electric power industry – this month hosted the 6th biannual FISE Electric Power Fair with more than 15,000 visitors, 320 exhibitors, US$200 million in new business deals -- and a growing focus on wind/solar power as well as electric vehicles (EVs).

At the Plaza Mayor convention center here, attendees jammed into 150 technical sessions December 4 through 6 on electric power generation, transmission, distribution, emerging technologies, regulatory and legislative innovations -- and eyed the emerging trend of “self-generation” not only at industrial scale but also at homes, shopping centers and small businesses.

More than 60 companies from 19 foreign countries participated in special “international business network” sessions co-organized by FISE and Colombia business-promotion agency ProColombia. In total, more than 1,000 business negotiation meetings took place at FISE, according to the organizers.

Medellin is the headquarters of most of Colombia’s electricity giants including ISA (the national power transmission operator and energy-trading center), Isagen (power generation), Celsia (power generation and transmission), EPM (the nation’s biggest power company), CIDET (industry research center) and many local and international engineering, technical and supply organizations.

FISE this year also dedicated a portion of trade-show floor space to electric vehicles (cars, motorcycles and bikes), EV charging technologies, solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies, smart-meters and exhibitions touting distributed-energy schemes.

While China, Europe and the USA are taking the global lead in EV sales and recharging networks, Colombia is just starting to see this market take hold, with 3,167 EVs sold through July 2019, according to FISE.

Given Medellin’s air-pollution problems – overwhelmingly caused by gasoline, diesel and natural-gas-fueled cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles – it’s likely that Medellin will continue to be Colombia’s national leader in the move to EVs, according to several expert presentations here.

For example: Medellin this year began deploying more than 70 “Metroplus” zero-emissions electric transit buses, which complement the city’s vast, electric-powered “Metro” railway system, a growing network of all-electric “Metrocable” aerial trams, and electric-powered road trams, which combined carry 1.5 million passengers daily.

In this respect alone, Medellin is light-years ahead of all other Colombian cities including Bogota, Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Armenia, Manizales and elsewhere.

What’s more, EPM just inked a deal with U.S.-based global wind/solar-power developer Invenergy to build and operate at least 400 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar power plants in Colombia by 2025 (see Medellin Herald November 27, 2019), with investments likely hitting US$500 million to US$600 million.

EPM is Colombia’s first (and only) pioneer in wind power generation through its 19.5-MW “Jepírachi” wind farm –built in 2004 -- in the La Guajira desert region, which has some of the world’s strongest and most-reliable wind conditions (averaging 9 meters per second, double the national average), experts noted here.

La Guajira also has Colombia’s highest solar insolation average -- at six kilowatts per square meter, 66% higher than the national average, and much higher than the world average.

Which explains why La Guajira is the target of big new wind/solar power projects by major developers-- including EPM and Celsia -- as Colombia’s Energy Ministry vice-minister Diego Mesa outlined in a keynote presentation here.

Special tax exemptions -- and Colombia’s new regulatory mandate requiring energy generators/distributors to incorporate 8% to 10% of electric power from “unconventional” renewable power sources (mainly wind and solar) – explains why these “green” sources will rise to 1.5-gigawatts capacity by 2022, up from only 50 MW today, Mesa showed.

That represents a COP$7.5 trillion (US$2.2 billion) investment in new wind/solar capacity here in Colombia, he added.

While Colombia has a relatively robust 97% of homes, businesses and industries connected to electric power, some remote areas still lack electricity, Mesa noted. Which is why the current national government aims to work with private companies to hook-up power for 500,000 more people by 2022. That’s one-quarter of the 2 million rural, remote Colombians still lacking power.

Meanwhile, the expected 2022 entry-into-operations of EPM’s 2.4-gigawatt, US$5 billion “Hidroituango” hydroelectric plant will help EPM meet its 2025 deadline for “carbon neutrality,” as EPM markets director Jose Enrique Salazar pointed out in a separate presentation here.

Nationally, Colombia aims to become “carbon neutral” in all of its industrial, commercial and personal activities by 2050 – with the mainly hydroelectric power industry running way ahead of all other sectors, and soon to be even "greener" with the upcoming wind/solar power plants.

By 2030, Colombia aims to have 3.3 gigawatts of wind-power installed, along with 2.57 GW of hydropower, 705 MW of solar, 650 MW of natural-gas-fired power, 187 MW of oil-based power, 889 MW of liquefied natural gas (LNG) fired power, 270 MW of LP-gas power and 250-MW of “small-scale” power, Salazar explained -- adding that LNG-fired power will gradually replace what remains of the relatively "dirty" oil-fired power.

While carbon dioxide (CO2) “global warming” emissions aren’t yet taxed globally, Colombia already has a COP$16,422 (US$5) per-ton CO2 tax -- and government officials are studying the possibility of creating a local emissions trading scheme (ETS), he added.

The new wind-power farms planned by EPM, Celsia and others will generate renewable energy credits (RECs) – tradable in world markets -- as well as emissions-reduction certificates valuable for offsetting other, less-green operations in Colombia, he showed. EPM was the first company in Colombia to sell RECs globally, he explained.

The worst CO2 emitting sector in Colombia is transport vehicles. So, conversion of more of the car/truck/motorcycle/bus fleet to electric power (tapping “green” electricity generation) would help Colombia more rapidly achieve its “carbon neutrality” goals, Salazar added.

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.

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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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