Colombia’s Ambassador to T&T William Bush assures that Colombia will continue to maintain close business ties with T&T in the services sector as well as other areas.
“It is noteworthy that the Embassy of Colombia in T&T has a lot of connections with the local private sector in T&T and it is a great pleasure for us to show the capacity of Colombia in the services sector and the value of innovation and creativity as well as share as much knowledge as we can,” he said.
Bush spoke last Wednesday at the Doing Business with the World webinar series hosted by the T&T Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI).
Representative of ProColombia, Rosa Garzon gave a presentation on the services sector in Colombia and what it can offer to T&T.
ProColombia is a Government agency of the executive branch of the Government of Colombia in charge of promoting Colombian non-traditional exports, international tourism and foreign investment to Colombia.
Garzon spoke about Colombia’s high-tech sector and said currently Colombia exports its services to “very sophisticated markets.”
“Colombia has been the country in second place with the most qualified workforce in South America and the third largest IT market in Latin America. Between 2021 and 2022, 31 per cent of Colombia’s exports belong to industries generating 2.2 per cent of the country’s formal employment. Colombia has a large pool of highly qualified IT specialists and the Government is looking to expand making the country an attractive location for outsourcing. The Colombian City of Medellin is home to several tech schools and universities. Companies have also opened new contact centres thanks to the country’s high tech capabilities.”
She also gave details about Colombia’s Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector.
“This sector develops opportunities in non-traditional communities such as students, mothers, heads of families, youths without experiences and migrants. This represents 3.2 per cent of the country’s employment. This sector is very important in generating employment. Colombia has been ranked as the number one destination for BPO’s due to the connectivity and internet communication.”
CEO of NativApps and Colombian businessman, Gustavo de la Vega, who also spoke during the webinar, said he hopes there will be direct flights between the two countries to facilitate more business and trade.
“Why don’t we have direct flights? That is something we need to improve. For T&T, Colombia is a very good market. T&T entrepreneurs come to Colombia and sell us their services. I think we need to complete working together. We can create a win-win relationship to support our markets but also to export from our countries and to have a bigger presence all over Latin America. T&T has a strong BPO sector as T&T speaks English and we Colombians need to train our people and there is an opportunity. Business people need to travel and meet each other in person.”
At the webinar, the TTCSI president Mark Edghill noted that February 2023 marked the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and since its establishment in 1968, the very active bilateral relationship has been based on trade, technical cooperation and cultural exchanges.
He said T&T has been the main Caricom country trading with Colombia under the Caricom-Colombia Partial--Scope Agreement on Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation, which came into effect in July 1994.
He added that T&T’s products have free access to Colombia’s market through the exemption of tariffs and elimination non-tariff barriers for products specified under the agreement, which provides for two-way trade liberalisation and trade facilitation between both countries.
He presented data from the United Nations Comtrade database on international trade which shows that in 2021, T&T exported an estimated US$297 million worth of products to Colombia.
“The bulk of that was from the petroleum and petrochemical sectors in mineral fuels, oils and distillation products, worth US$133.90 million, fertilisers, worth US$115.51 million, inorganic chemicals, precious metal compound and isotopes valued at US$27.58 million, with other sizeable exports; along with organic chemicals, valued at US$15.59 million.”
He also indicated that in that same year, the Comtrade data shows that Colombia exported US$50 million dollars to T&T.
He pointed out that among Colombia’s top exports to T&T in 2021 were sugars and sugar confectionery worth US$10.99 million, electrical and electronic equipment valued at US$8.01 million, plastics worth US$6.09 million and miscellaneous chemical products valued at US$3.32 million.
He spoke about how T&T can learn from Colombia.
“We in T&T can learn from Colombia about the developing and strengthening our services sector, which contributes roughly 11 per cent to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) compared to Colombia, where data from Statista shows that in 2022, the services sector was the largest contributor to Colombia’s trillion dollar economy, with a 54.8 per cent share of GDP. Industry contributed approximately 26.73 per cent, while agriculture’s share was 8.29 per cent. With our collaboration and knowledge of the Columbia services sector, we at the TTCSI are committed to ensuring growth in the contribution of the services sector to our GDP.”