MARÍA XIMENA LOMBANA

Colombia 2021/22 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism continues to champion more public policies that promote the productive and commercial development of the country's entrepreneurs.

María Ximena Lombana
BIOGRAPHY

María Ximena Lombana is a lawyer from Universidad del Rosario with a master's degree in international business from the Washington College of Law and a master's degree in commercial law from the University of Paris II – Panthéon Assas. She taught commercial law at the universities of Rosario and La Sabana for 10 years. She also contributed to strengthening the National Agency for the Jury Defense of the State and the State Attorney by managing key projects. She was a diplomatic envoy in Spain and France and was First Secretary of the Colombian Mission to the UN. She was general secretary of the Ministry of Interior and of Bancoldex. She has acted as legal arbitrator in Bogotá's Chamber of Commerce and was a researcher at the Legal Department of the Organization of American States (OEA). She has also worked as a consultant at the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution of the World Economic Forum.

What are the main challenges and opportunities for Colombia in terms of commerce and industry?

From a business development perspective, even considering the existence of an Industrial Policy underway, there are challenges in different axes. In the first place we have business formalization, as policymakers we are aware of generating greater incentives that motivate entrepreneurs to become part of the formal business fabric. We have made considerable progress in this regard, through the Simple State, Agile Colombia strategy and the one-stop shop investment window, to simplify procedures and promote business formalization in the country. Second, strengthening the access of entrepreneurs to financial resources in the form of credits and guarantees is another great priority that we have set for ourselves. Third, we have the opportunity to boost investment in the country through two strategies that we have designed: the new Free Trade Zones 4.0 regime and the Special Social Economic Zones (ZESE). Under this premise, it is not only sought to impact investment but also to impact the employment generation. Both strategies aim to boost direct job creation while promoting investment in the country. Finally, it is worth noting that a great challenge facing the country in industrial matters is the articulation of the Industrial Policy underway with the Export Policy of the country. In this aspect, we have worked as a sector in aligning the work of preparing companies within the framework of a business development policy with the country's internationalization objectives, through a strengthening roadmap that begins with the consolidation of the business productivity (Productivity Factories Program) and continues to reinforce the export capacity of companies (Internationalization and Quality Factories Program for exporting). We continue working on the generation of more public policies that promote the productive and commercial development of the country's entrepreneurs.

What policies exist to support business generation and contribute to the Colombian economic reactivation?

The ongoing Industrial Policy is aimed at strengthening the value generation capacity of the Colombian industry and services sectors and contributing to having a country with greater social equity and environmental sustainability. The policy is based on six transversal strategic axes that frame the vision of the government to transform the Colombian productive apparatus: formalization and entrepreneurship, productivity, innovation, financing, investment and competitive environment. Additionally, it contemplates a vertical strategic axis called new sources of growth, aimed at accelerating the productive dynamics of economic activities that can boost the country's results in terms of employment, exports, investment, and/or economic growth. These axes, in turn, have a set of key actions that seek to contribute to the development of more and better companies and productive projects in Colombia. All the key actions proposed, seek to resolve market, government or coordination failures, either through the provision of public goods or through the implementation of interventions in markets. It is worth mentioning that the national industrial policy is complemented by the “Colombia Exporta" policy of the ministry, which shares similar strategic axes and aims to strengthen the internationalization process of the Colombian economy as the axis of the country's economic reactivation plan.

What characteristics would you like the Colombian economy to be defined by in the post-pandemic context?

We want the country to be seen as a development pole with great opportunities for investors to grow their businesses and promote the generation of employment and income. Likewise, we want it to be a country that generates trust and security from the perspective of economic, social and political stability. We hope the country will be a great benchmark in Latin America in policies that promote productive development with a solid business ecosystem that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation. Finally, we want to promote Colombia as a great tourist destination that offers a complete portfolio of services and a complete experience to its visitors in tourism, business tourism and health tourism and that attracts even more investment in this productive activity.