What are the advantages for companies setting up their businesses in the complex?
JUAN CARLOS BOTERO We are an industrial and logistics concentrated free trade zone. One advantage is that we are the closest complex to Buenaventura, Colombia's largest seaport in the Pacific Ocean, and are in close proximity to Palmira and Cali International Airport, Alfonso Bonilla Aragón. The industries that operate in our park benefit from versatile transport opportunities. Additionally, our integration to the value chains in the region, country, and broadly South America region mean many of the industries that operate in the park are either partially or fully integrated into the value chains of their sectors. For example, the Valle del Cauca candy and confectionary industries are fully integrated. They purchase sugar and many of the raw materials regionally and manufacture candy for export.
ALFREDO CABALLERO Parque Industrial Malambo is an industrial development project set up to draw in investment surrounding the industrial sector. We have created an infrastructure and service platform for companies to form business clusters, having identified these as metal-mechanic, water treatment, logistics, and food companies. This is not simply a matter of attracting companies; each company requires a series of services that ensure their access to the keys to their economic success. We help give companies them access to better production conditions. In addition, we are also constructors. Furthermore, in the context of the climate and health crisis, companies have to take sustainability into account, and our purpose is to assist them in building that perception. We have noticed the increase in the importance of photovoltaic and clean energy companies, and we are currently running a project for the construction of a wastewater treatment plant. We currently have 3,800 people working in Parque Industrial Malambo as well as 1,500 others working indirectly.
Which sectors stand to benefit from associating with your free trade zone?
JCB Zona Franca del Pacífico is key for the F&B sector, for example, everything from candy to quinoa. We also have pharmaceutical companies as clients, such as Lafrancol from the Abbot Group. On top of this, we have the textile sector for different companies, among them Johanna Ortiz, a top designer that exports blouses, dresses, and outfits to more than 20 countries. We also have a bathing suit company that exports to Canada and the US. The logistics centers and distribution hubs here are also a strong sector that operates in the park. In addition, we have an ambulance assembler from Spain that builds and assemble ambulances for the Colombian and Latin American market.
How does your experience support start-ups that are setting up operations?
AC Over the last 40 years, our trajectory followed the understanding of the region's economy. This economy has been moving toward a process of industrialization rooted in the metropolitan area. In this regional economy, the metal-mechanic, logistics, and food sectors play a central role. In the metropolitan area, we have municipalities such as Malambo, Soledad, Sabana Grande, and Galapa, while Puerto Colombia and Barranquilla tend to be more service oriented. It is important for start-ups to take this into account, and to design their development based on a “master plan” in order to adequately align the stages of investment in consonance with their implementation strategies.
How does Zona Franca provide support to partners and make sure business remains smooth despite the pandemic?
JCB When the pandemic started in Colombia in late March, many companies were already in the process of importing goods and raw materials from China, Europe, and the US. These companies continued to receive goods, so we helped with warehousing space. Their operations were either shut down or reduced to low levels of operation, and we offered space that we had available at reasonable prices. That was a way of helping out our customers and the customers of our customers in dealing with their high volumes of imports that kept reaching our zone.
What advantages are there in Barranquilla for companies operating in Colombia looking to venture overseas?
AC The advantage of Barranquilla is its geographical location. Barranquilla as a city is set to be the capital of Colombia. The globalization of the economy places the maritime ports front and center, as it is far cheaper to transport cargo via ocean freight. Furthermore, it has one fundamental condition: its international airport, which allows for the development of new industrial parks, free economic zones and eco-industrial parks.