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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.


Colombia’s national government is about to unveil a new, COP$1.4 trillion (US$416 million) financing plan to ensure completion of the “phase two” section of highway connecting Santa Fe de Antioquia to the under-construction “Toyo” tunnel -- both of which will link Medellin westward to new and existing Atlantic freight ports as part of the “Mar 1” and “Mar 2” highways.

In a January 22 press conference, Colombia highway agency (Invias) director Juan Esteban Gil Chavarria, Antioquia Governor Anibal Gaviria Correa and Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero jointly announced the upcoming financing deal for the 19-kilometers-long “phase two” highway (see blue line in map, above) -- details of which would be announced in the next two weeks.

Once completed, the "Mar 1" and "Mar 2" highways would drastically cut freight transit times between Medellin and the Atlantic, to around 4.5 hours.

“Phase one” of the 9.8-kilometers-long Toyo tunnel (see red line in map, above) -- recently renamed "Tunel Guillermo Gaviria Echeverri," honoring the father of former Antioquia Gov. Guillermo Gaviria Correa, murdered in 2002 by communist FARC terrorists following a peace march – is now due for opening in 2023, a year ahead of schedule, Gov. Anibal Gaviria revealed.

“The national government through Invias and ANI [the national infrastructure agency] has pledged to contribute the COP$1.4 trillion [US$416 million] necessary for the construction of 'phase two' of the Toyo Tunnel between Santa Fe de Antioquia and the eastern access to the Guillermo Gaviria Echeverri Tunnel,” Gaviria further explained.

It’s conceivable that future highway toll revenues from the under-construction “Mar 1” highway between Medellin and Santa Fe de Antioquia might be used to support the new financing package for "phase two," Invias director Gil added.

A video (in Spanish) of the joint press conference is available here: https://www.facebook.com/GobAntioquia/videos/493751238224759/

 


The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) “Oro Legal” (Legal Gold) project in Antioquia announced January 23 that between the September 2016 launch of the project and October 2019, dozens of formerly artisanal miners in the project produced 2.9 tons of gold worth more than US$112 million.

“The results of gold sales and the payment of income taxes, social security and royalties to the state by small and medium-sized ‘mining production units (‘UPM’ in Spanish initials) of Antioquia and Chocó -- accompanied by the Legal Gold Program of USAID -- are demonstrating that formalization is a good business for both small and medium-sized miners and for the country,” according to USAID.

These formerly illegal miners paid US$8 million (COP$26 billion) in taxes to the state, helping Antioquia fund numerous programs that benefit the citizenry.

“Additionally, with the transition to legality, the use of 40.4 tons of mercury was avoided in the activities of [purifying] the mineral -- and a dynamic of modernization of exploitation processes was generated through compliance with high technical, environmental and business standards,” according to USAID.

“Another benefit offered by formalization processes is the possibility of exporting gold. This is the case of the UPM Tenerife, Río Rayo, Puerto Escondido and La Troja [miners], which are one step away from becoming the first of the Lower Cauca Antioqueño producers to export gold to Switzerland with the ‘Responsible Gold’ seal.

“This [certification] will allow them to receive a better price for the gold produced and an additional prize of US$ 1,000 per kilo, which they can invest in environmental and social projects,” USAID added.


Despite isolated acts of vandalism in Medellin by small groups of extreme left-wingers who attacked a few municipal bus stations, police stations, bank offices and a hotel during a January 21 protest march here, Medellin mainly demonstrated once again that peaceful protest is respected by nearly all its citizens.

Contrast that to Bogota where left-wing extremists once again viciously attacked and injured police, as shown in this video taken by witnesses: https://www.facebook.com/GuardianesdeAntioquiaMedellin1/videos/863143347459656/UzpfSTEwMDA0MDQzNDEzMTYzOTpWSzoyNDEwODMzODIyMzU0ODEy/

In all, six policemen were injured by “encapuchados” (hooded left-wing extremists) in Bogota – down in number from the dozens of police injured and hospitalized during protest marches last November, where three other persons died as a result of police shooting back at “encapuchados” (hooded extremists) who were throwing bombs and rocks, gang-beating anti-riot police and attempting to burn and destroy private businesses and public facilities.

Ironically, newly elected Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez – who had campaigned on a populist promise to block the use of the “ESMAD” anti-riot police – embarrassingly conceded that she likewise had to deploy these troops to stop senseless violence and road-blockings by extremist protesters.

New Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero – who similarly had criticized ESMAD in his election campaign – likewise deployed anti-riot police when violent actors began attacking buildings and bus stations, as well as threatening peaceful citizens in Medellin.

Meanwhile, Colombia President Ivan Duque on January 21 once again publicly endorsed the constitutional right of Colombian citizens to organize and carry-out peaceful protest marches. He also cited the new and continuing dialogs between his government and proactive citizen delegates who are pushing further reforms to public education, the national health system, cultural initiatives, pensions and work rules -- all by democratic means rather than by violence.

However, the politically radical “Comite Nacional de Paro” (the national protest-march organizers) rejected President Duque’s invitation to participate in the new talks, instead pushing protest actions and anti-democratic, non-negotiable demands, which inevitably led to more violence and extremist hatred.

This group published a list of 104 demands including a 100% nationalization of the partly-privatized Ecopetrol oil company (which would require billions of dollars of new government expenses in already heavily debt-ridden Colombia); conversion of relatively efficient private-sector services such as telecom and internet to state ownership; a new law that would ban oil production via “fracking” (such a ban ironically would guarantee an accelerated demise of Ecopetrol and all its union jobs as conventional oil is rapidly disappearing in Colombia); a dismantling of anti-riot police (ensuring even more violence by extremists); and a politically biased dismantling of criminal “paramilitary” groups (but not any dismantling of the extreme left wing narco-terrorist ELN group, which instead would be favored by unilateral “peace” talks -- while ignoring continual ELN violence).

The protest group also demands that Colombia ban spraying of herbicides that kill the coca plant -- the backbone for cocaine narco-trafficking by criminal extremist groups including ELN.

Ironically, Colombia has seen a huge increase in coca and cocaine production – triggering the inevitable rise in violence by narco-gangster groups including ex-FARC and ELN -- as a result of a decision by the former President Santos administration to concede to demands by these criminal groups to ban the use of aerial spraying.

However, President Duque is pushing for a gradual return of such spraying -- hence infuriating the extreme left and other criminal groups here.


Colombia’s national innovation and digital transformation adviser to President Ivan Duque publicly announced January 14 that the Duque administration and various allies in the Colombian Congress are developing a new law that will legalize more technology-platform taxi operations -- like the now-illegal “Uber” taxis.

Government initiatives to ban unlicensed taxis -- including “Uber” -- have been in the works for years, long before President Duque took office in July 2018. But the long-expected ban finally takes effect February 1, 2020.

Victor Manuel Muñoz, national innovation and digital transformation advisor to the President of Colombia, revealed in a January 14 press conference at the Transport Ministry that the national government’s new scheme will take a few more months to develop.

Until the new law takes effect, Uber Colombia announced January 10 that it will comply with the February 1 regulation, which disallows continued operations of private taxis that fail to conform to all tax, insurance and licensing regulations in Colombia.

“Uber respects the law and the decisions issued by the authorities,” according to the Uber-Colombia press bulletin. “However, decisions like [the ruling by the Transport Ministry] also respond to the absence of a regulation covering the collaborative mobility service through technology platforms in Colombia.”

According to a January 14  press statement from the Colombian president’s office, the Duque administration “will work together with the Congress of the Republic to present a [law and] regulation, so that [Uber-like digital] platforms can legally provide their service in the country.”

Three political parties in Congress that collectively represent a majority are already working with the administration on a new bill: Centro Democratico, Partido Verde and “La U,” as noted in a separate report from Colombian business newspaper Portafolio.

The proposed law would enable private individuals to offer Uber-like taxi service without affiliation to a conventional taxi company. However, these individuals, their vehicles, and their affiliated technology-platform operators would have to enroll in a new “National Unique Registry of Private Intermediate Transport Service” (“Runspti” in Spanish initials), according to the report.

A mandatory insurance policy would cover drivers, passengers, vehicles and third parties, without which the individual driver would be blocked from enrolling in “Runspti.”

In addition, the technology-platform operators (tapping “Uber-like” private drivers) would be required to contribute 1% of earnings to a new national fund designed to compensate today’s legal taxi drivers, who pay vastly higher costs-of-operation than the illegal drivers.

Unlike “Uber” operators, legal taxis in Colombia today pay huge sums (around US$30,000 to US$40,000 per vehicle) for a “cupo” (quota) enabling circulation in various cities.

The new legislation aims to phase-out or modify this quota system in future years, hence enabling conventional taxis to compete with “Uber-like” taxis on a cost-equivalent basis.

In the meantime, Colombia’s Transport Minister Ángela María Orozco announced January 10 that Colombia already has 24 alternative, tech-platform private transport services that meet existing regulations (unlike "Uber.")

“The use of technological platforms for the provision of the transport service in the individual mode of passengers in taxi vehicles are regulated by the national government Decree 1079 of 2015 and by the Ministry of Transportation,” Orozco stated.

“There are currently around 24 platforms enabled for this purpose. In no way are we against technological development. We support initiatives of this nature, but the life of passengers and the provision of public transport services must be protected under the technical and legal conditions established by Colombian regulations.

“Reforms must be carried out in the Congress of the Republic to anticipate new phenomena of collaborative [transport] economy, to allow a leveling of the rules-of-the-game for all actors, with new conditions of qualification,” she added.

As noted in a separate report from Colombian newspaper El Tiempo (citing Transport Ministry data), the existing, legal, alternative tech-platform transport services include “Etaxi,” “Prontuz,” “Red Amarilla,” “Acar Technology,” “Taxi Finder,” “Farley,” “Coopebombas,” “Taxis Ya,” “Digi+,” “City Taxi,” “Taxi Web,” “Mi Águila,” “Taxi Élite,” “T-driver,” “Me Voy,” “Megataxi,” “White cloud,” “Infotaxi,” “Muvit,” “Smart Taxi,” “Yougo,” “Quua,” “Taxis Cabarellos,” “Play Taxi,” “Taxis Cafetalito” and “Rio App.”


Colombia’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Tourism (“MinCit”) and the ProColombia export promotion agency jointly announced January 9 a new “internationalization factory” scheme that aims to expand exports – hence boosting local employment, corporate profits, resulting tax revenues and a better national balance-of-payments situation.

According to MinCit Minister José Manuel Restrepo Abondano, “through this model, entrepreneurs can adopt and improve their management and innovation skills and identify new markets for their products.”

Companies interested in participating in the new scheme may apply at: www.fabricasdeinternacionalizacion.com.co, according to MinCit.

Following registration, “a ProColombia consultant will contact the employer and make a diagnosis of the company to find opportunities for improvement,” according to the Ministry.

“With the accompaniment of ProColombia a work plan will be built, together with the company. The [product and] service lines to be developed will be selected.

“The ProColombia advisor will continually evaluate the evolution of the company to define if it requires an additional service line and/or participate in the promotional activities that ProColombia has designed.”

Qualifying participants must be “legally constituted companies” with a “defined good or service” that “produce or sell Colombian products” and are in certain industrial categories including agriculture, food, textiles and clothing, metalworking, chemicals, life-sciences and high-tech “industry 4.0” sectors, according to MinCit.


Medellin-based international gold mining giant Mineros SA announced January 9 that it sold 100% of its “Operadora Minera SAS” subsidiary in Colombia to Canada-based gold miner Para Resources.

“The offer includes the sale of 100% of the shares of Operadora Minera and the mining title ‘GJJ101’ corresponding to the Nechi [Antioquia] project for a total value of US$5.5 million payable in cash in two facilities,” according to Mineros.

Besides operations in Canada and Brazil, Para already owns and operates a high-grade gold mine near Zaragoza, Antioquia, the company added.

“With this transaction, Mineros concentrates its activities in Colombia in the alluvial operation, which today represents 85% of the company’s production in this country,” said Santiago Cardona, Mineros vice president.

“In turn, with our recent exploration agreement with Royal Road Minerals in western Antioquia, we will continue to strengthen our operation in Colombia as a strategic jurisdiction for the mining group, through the acquisition of new operations and the optimization of current ones,” Cardona added.

Mineros SA has an exceptional reputation for environmentally and socially responsible mining in Colombia and has recently expanded operations to Argentina, Chile and Nicaragua.

 


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.


Certain politically biased non-government organizations (NGOs), several left-wing politicos, some naïve blogs and fake-news outfits in Colombia repeatedly and overwhelmingly blame former President Alvaro Uribe, his political successors and the Colombian army for murders of various social activists following the 2016 “peace” agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC narco-communist terrorist group.

But in nearly all cases, these murders are in fact caused by various narco-gangster groups and criminal miners -- including hundreds of “dissident” members of FARC that rejected the “peace” deal.

As noted in a new report by the nonpartisan, independent InsightCrime bulletin, “while Cauca [rather than Antioquia or Medellin] has seen the worst of the violence against local community leaders in 2019, the motives for these killings reflect the wider reasons for such targeted violence across Colombia.

“According to the organization Somos Defensores, one of the main reasons social leaders are targeted is due to their participation in the implementation of the 2016 peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC).

“Social leaders can also run afoul of criminal groups when trying to stem the tide of illegal economies within their communities. Many victims were involved in activities related to coca crop substitution, the creation of legal jobs, or land redistribution, all efforts which can curtail drug production and help rural residents find sustainable alternatives,” the bulletin noted.

Similarly, according to the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Instituto de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Paz – INDEPAZ), “other risk factors contributing to violence against social leaders include denunciations of armed actors, accusations of mismanagement of public funds by state entities, and claims to the right to use natural resources,” InsightCrime noted.

“The problems facing social leaders in Cauca are exacerbated by the department’s crucial location as a drug trafficking corridor. According to the latest report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), around 17,000 hectares of coca were produced in this department alone in 2018.

“Cauca has therefore become hotly contested by a range of criminal groups, seeking an advantage there, including the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN), the Popular Liberation Army (Ejército Popular de Liberación – EPL) and at least five dissident fronts of the FARC,” the report noted.

President Duque Steps-Up Enforcement

Meanwhile, on a related front, Colombia President Ivan Duque announced January 9 a further crackdown on these violent actors that are targeting social leaders.

For full-year 2019, “we had a reduction in the killings of social leaders of close to 25%,” Duque noted, citing the latest Colombia Attorney General’s report. But even that reduction isn’t nearly sufficient, he added.

Since taking-over in July 2018 (following the landslide election of President Duque), the Attorney General’s office has stepped-up attacks on criminal organizations and will expand these efforts in 2020, the president added.

“Thanks to the clarifications made by the Attorney General’s office regarding the murders of social leaders, ex-combatants and human rights defenders, it has been determined that those behind these crimes are [in fact] drug traffickers, illegal miners and organized armed groups,”  Duque noted.


Andi -- Colombia’s biggest and most influential industrial-commercial trade association, born in Medellin – on January 3 issued its latest annual economic outlook report, finding that Colombia continues to improve in several key economic competitiveness areas -- but still lags in others.

“Colombia ends 2019 with a fairly acceptable performance in the economic field,” stated Andi president Bruce MacMaster.

During 2019, Colombia’s manufacturing industry showed “moderate” growth year-on-year, although slightly lower compared to 2018's growth, the study found.

Between January and October 2019, Andi’s “Joint Industrial Opinion Survey” ("EOIC" in Spanish initials) reported an increase of 1.8% in industrial production (down from 2.9% in 2018); a 2.8% rise in total foreign plus domestic sales (down from 3.3% growth in 2019) and a 2.9% hike in sales for the national market (up from 2.6% in 2018), according to the trade group.

As for the general economic growth (“PIB” in Spanish initials), Colombia is outstripping nearly all of Latin America, rising above 3% for full-year 2019 – in contrast to 10 consecutive quarters in prior years that had growth rates below 2.5% and even in some quarters below 2%, Andi noted.

“However, 3% [annual PIB growth] rates are not enough. They are far from Colombia's long-term [historic] growth, which is between 4% to 4.5%, and [3% annual growth] will not allow us to respond to the great challenge that the country has today to generate quality jobs and meet great needs in social and competitiveness,” according to Andi.

“Household consumption, which had grown 3.6% [year-on-year] in 2018, at the end of the third quarter of 2019 grew 4.7%. Meanwhile, investment measured by gross formation of fixed capital went from 0.8% in 2018 to 4.6% in the same period of 2019.

“This behavior of investment [growth] is explained by the confidence that national investors and foreigners have in the country and also thanks to the incentive represented by the new Financing Law that corrects a lag that we had with respect to other countries by allowing VAT [value-added tax] deduction for the purchase of capital goods.

“With all of the above, Colombia remains one of the promising economies in the region and this is perceived by the risk rating agencies that keep the country in investment grade. In the same direction, foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to the country have been maintained this past year and recorded growth of over 20%, both in FDI towards the oil sector and oriented towards other sectors.”

Meanwhile, “2020 will bring great challenges. The recovery phase that began in the last two years should be consolidated and the country should look for growths greater than 4% and even 5%.

“For this [to happen], the recently enacted tax package [dubbed ‘Economic Growth Law’] constitutes a positive investment incentive. It is also important that both the public and private sectors closely monitor the commitments of the Growth Pacts, which would also contribute to a better environment to boost the economy. No less important is a strong export strategy that allows us to penetrate new markets and diversify the export basket.

“Another great challenge is in formalization. Colombia still has high levels of labor, product and business informality. The country has already made progress in making decisions to reduce informality such as the reduction of [company formalization] procedures, a simplified taxation system and electronic invoices.

“To this is added the CONPES [the national economic planning organization] initiative for business formalization, whose main purpose is the implementation of an action plan to improve the cost-benefit ratio of a company to be formal,” Andi added.

Competitiveness: Crucial for Growth

While Andi noted that the year 2019 was generally positive, “this level of economic growth is not enough for the country to transform and achieve greater development, a better level of employment and an increase in investment.

“That is achieved with a competitiveness strategy, where policies focus on Colombia being attractive both in the region and internationally in terms of infrastructure, human capital, institutions and business development, to mention a few issues,” Andi noted.

While some major competitiveness indicators found that Colombia showed “slight improvements in the year 2019, the position that the country occupies is still lagging behind,” according to Andi.

“The World Economic Forum [WEF or 'FEM' in Spanish initials] placed Colombia at position 57 among 141 countries in the Global Competitiveness Index 4.0, reflecting a three-position advance over the previous year, when it was in position 60.

“The top positions [in the WEF survey] are held by Singapore, the United States and Hong Kong. Asian countries such as [South] Korea and China remain in high positions in positions, at 13 and 28 respectively. India on the other hand fell 10 positions with respect to the prior year, placing itself in position 68.

“In Latin America, Colombia is in position four among the [WEF] countries analyzed, and continues to be better placed in the ranking than Costa Rica, Peru, Panama, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Paraguay and Venezuela. However, although Chile, Mexico and Uruguay did not show improvements in the global index [in 2019], these countries continued to place themselves in higher positions in the indicator.

“The rise by three positions [in the global WEF survey] by Colombia is mainly explained by significant improvements in macroeconomic stability, health and labor market.

“On the other hand, we deteriorated in institutions and in TIC [advanced technology, information and communications] adoption.

"Among the indicators of institutions, the fall in protection of intellectual property and verifications and balances is highlighted. On the other hand, the fall in TIC adoption is mainly due to the fall in Internet users.

“In infrastructure, we improved by two positions. The indicators that stand out for their progress are efficiency in train services and electricity.

“Macroeconomic stability had an advance of 13 positions, reaching 43, where inflation was the determining indicator.

“In human capital, the country advanced nine positions for the improvement in health indicators, specifically for healthy life expectancy. For its part, the skills indicator showed no progress, and we remain in an unfavorable position (80).

“In markets [efficiencies], we fell two positions due to the decline in the product market and in the financial system. The fall in the product market was due to significant deterioration in the following indicators: scope of market dominance, competition in professional services, competition in network services and complexity of tariffs.

“For its part, trade tariffs had an advance of 14 positions. In the financial system, the indicator of delinquent bank loans (as a percent of the value of the loan portfolio) was the one with the greatest decline.

“The labor market, meanwhile, had a significant improvement of seven positions, explained by the good performance of flexibility in salary determination, confidence in professional management and the meritocracy-and-incentive indicator.

“In the innovation ecosystem, Colombia lost six positions in the ranking, reaching 66. The capacity for innovation is the biggest challenge, since it fell four positions.

“The indicators that lost positions [relative ranking declines] were that of interaction and diversity, diversity of the workforce, status of cluster development and patent applications. The behavior in the indicator of collaboration within the company that improved 30 positions stands out as positive,” according to Andi.

“The pillars in which Colombia performed less favorably were that of business growth, legal certainty and internationalization.

“In legal certainty, the country's environment is not friendly and shows that Colombia has a lot to advance in this area, since the constant change in the rules of the game is a great limitation for companies.

“Indicators such as transparency and contract compliance time show a weak performance in the country. In internationalization, the indicator that does not show good performance is that of the [transparency] environment, due to indicators such as time to import and foreign currency reserves.

“The competitive environment of the country, although it has improved, there are many challenges and a long way to go. In infrastructure, costs and environment, we occupy the least favorable positions, while in technology and education the indicators show a better position (49 and 50).

“In [business] formalization, the position occupied by Colombia was 52, due to the country's environment in this area. The indicators of transparency and burden of government regulation are those that place the country in a less favorable position,” Andi added.

“The digital transformation in Colombia is, together with innovation and entrepreneurship, the pillar in which the country is better located, ranking 51.

“Within this pillar, the country's performance in ‘GovTech’ stands out, due to the good performance in indicators such as the government online services index, electronic participation index and the importance of TIC for the government vision.

“In the areas of [TIC development] infrastructure, digital talent and environment, we still have a long way to move forward,” Andi concluded.

IMD Rankings

“Likewise, the IMD [the Swiss-based business-development education program often ranked top in the world] in its global competitiveness ranking published in May [2019] shows a good performance for Colombia, with an improvement of six positions, achieving position 52 among 63 countries,” according to the Andi analysis.

“Within this [IMD] indicator, most of the measurement factors had improvements, which include the labor market indicator ranking (+21), prices (+17), attitudes and values (+10), fiscal policy (+7) and technological infrastructure (+7). On the other hand, the indicators for foreign trade, foreign investment, public finances and health and environment, fell between three and five positions.

“For its part, the ‘Doing Business’ [research organization] in its report, ‘Ease of Doing Business,’ presented an unfavorable panorama for the country, with a deterioration in the general ranking of two positions, going from 65 to 67 among 190 countries,” Andi noted.


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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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