6 reasons to work with a foreign trade consultant when targeting business in Colombia

6 reasons to work with a foreign trade consultant when targeting business in Colombia

In 1492 Christopher Columbus really started something; over 500 years later it’s your turn in the Americas! A New World discovery for many, now for you?


Colombia is developing fast – in some interesting areas that deserve your attention as we look forward to 2020.


In May 2018 Colombia was invited join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Formalizing OECD membership requires approval by Colombia’s Constitutional Court, a process that is expected to be completed in 2020.



Careful with the spelling – Columbia is also a North American State one of the fifty states!



So when you refer to the South American country that limits Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Panama and is washed by the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the name Columbia is correct, but the name Colombia is preferred in English.



Colombia has the 4th largest economy and the 3rd largest population in Latin America (World Bank, 2019). Total trade in goods and services between the UK and Colombia was £1.3 billion in the year ending June 2018 (ONS, 2019). After a period of domestic conflict some year past, it has emerged as a strong economy in the region – according to ECLAC, in 2019 it will be the South American economy with the second-highest percentage increase in GDP, after Bolivia.



The top 10 imports to Colombia include some expected items (Machinery, Electronic Equipment, Vehicles, Mineral Fuels, Organic Chemicals, Iron & Steel, and Cereals) and some UK-typical strengths like Plastics, Pharmaceuticals, and Medical – Technical Equipment. Clearly there is an opportunity to compete with German, French and Italian exporters.



Whiskey is also a notable UK export to Colombia (16% of all exports), so perhaps the rarer distilleries and crafters of specialist Gins have overlooked a “glass half-full” opportunity?



Colombia is performing above its neighbors; make sure you don’t miss out, by not being ready to supply your products and services.



In Colombia, Spanish is the official language, however, some everyday Amerindians speak only their native languages. Many business people understand some English, but being able to take the initiative will mean being able to make the first and the key steps using Spanish.



Getting ready quickly – 6 reasons to work with a foreign trade consultant when targeting business in Colombia:



  1. Cultural norms – every country does business differently and a locally based foreign trade consultant can help you acclimatize to local business practices.
  2. Strategic planning   a locally-based office, like our How2Go Colombian colleagues based in Bogotá Colombia’s capital city, understand current market needs and trends and have access to extensive databases of information about local markets. A foreign trade consultant can help you plan and execute your strategy in a timely manner whilst avoiding any pitfalls.
  3. Language issues – locally based foreign trade consultants can ensure you can perform sales and marketing activities in the target language and avoid misunderstandings, improving communication and delivery of the project.
  4. Legal advice – a foreign trade consultant can guide you through the process of setting up a new business in the country, what legal entity you become and legal requirements to doing business in Colombia.
  5. Financial advice – a foreign trade consultant can offer advice about how to set up bank accounts, invoicing protocol and payment terms, taxes or help you find a local expert to advise you.
  6. Beating barriers to entry – what are the specific barriers to entry for your product into the Colombian market? A foreign trade consultant can help you identify the ones most relevant to your business and devise a market entry strategy accordingly.

Louisa Criscenti-Brown is the UK Partner of How2Go Worldwide Business Solutions who offer sales and marketing consultancy services to companies in 10 countries worldwide. www.h2gconsulting.com


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