EFFICIENCY ALWAYS

Colombia 2018 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jorge E. Salamanca, General Manager of Zona Franca Metropolitana, on consistent growth within the free zones, being the best place to be in Bogotá, and strength in smallness.

Jorge E. Salamanca
BIOGRAPHY
Jorge E. Salamanca has great experience in the planning, development, and commercialization of industrial and logistic parks. His main experience is focus in the conceptualization of differentiated real state projects, such as Zona Francas and other logistic terminals located in the main logistics nodes of Colombia.

What have been Zona Franca Metropolitana's main accomplishments in the last two years?

We currently have 16 companies in the free trade zone. Currently, 40% of the project's area has been built up, while 26% is in construction, which we expect to complete in about three years. We cover sectors of logistics, the automotive industry, services, and manufacturing and are open to receiving all economic activities. Our goal is to reach technology, services, business process outsourcing (BPO), and pharmaceutical companies. We currently have a technology and pharmaceutical organization, and companies from the technology and pharmaceutic sectors. 70% of the companies here are local, while 30% are international. The ones that moved to the free trade zone four years ago have seen consistent growth. They are pleased with us and the regime in general, especially since the government has amended certain taxes and policies. The area where Zona Franca Metropolitana is located is expensive for companies that require a great deal of land, so logistics companies, BPOs, call centers, and technology offices prefer to use multi-story warehouses so they can use the different floor space according to their needs.

What is your main strategy to bring more international investors to the free trade zone?

If a company needs to be in Bogotá for different reasons, such as the market, sales, and customs, then Zona Franca Metropolitana is the best place to be. It is located close to main highways, El Dorado International Airport, and the center of the city. For logistics, it is the perfect location. We offer all the benefits of a free trade zone. In 2017, we developed a specific strategy to attract pharma companies, starting a joint venture with the CEO of a Colombian pharmaceutical company who had developed a marketing plan to attract similar foreign companies, which has now attracted several companies to the country. IT companies like certain areas for their green energy, cost savings, and visibility, and we have areas within our free trade zone for each of these. Furthermore, we are planning a project with a solar company to use all the warehouse roofs for low-cost energy generation, in addition to having three rings of fiber optics. On the other hand, for logistics, we have the top specifications for warehouses, which are equipped with everything that multinational logistics companies need from around the world.

How is Zona Franca Metropolitana different from other free trade zones?

We are the smallest free trade zone, but otherwise the logistics are the same. Being the smallest allows us to eliminate bottlenecks for products or employees coming or going from the facilities—everything is just easier. We also have many green areas inside the location, rooftop gardens as well as parks, which contribute to increasing people's levels of happiness, especially for service companies or call centers, where there are many employees. We are considering expanding to a nearby plot of land, but this is a specific business, which means there are many conditions that must be met first.

How do you evaluate the current transport and logistics situation in Colombia?

In terms of efficiency and the cost of logistics compared to other countries, Colombia is extremely efficient, even though we do not have the best highways or ports, and the capital is in the middle of the country. On the coast, Colombia's logistics are even more efficient. We export flowers and coffee, among many other goods. Export companies always need to use air transport, so in order to compensate for those costs, they need to be cheap.

What are your main goals for the coming year?

We need to sell and rent more areas and need as many new companies to enter Colombia as possible.