Exporting to Colombia

Colombia has the 4th largest economy and the 3rd largest population in Latin America (World Bank, 2019). After a long period of conflict it has emerged as a strong economy in the region. Total trade in goods and services between the UK and Colombia was £1.3 billion in the year ending June 2018 (ONS, 2019).

Growing market

Colombia’s GDP grew 2.6% in 2018. Growth is expected to reach 3.4% in 2019 and remain in that region for the next few years (IMF, 2019). Positive GDP performance and stable inflation and interest rates underpin optimistic forecasts for 2020 and beyond (IMF, 2019).

Ease of doing business

Colombia is ranked 2nd in Latin America for ease of doing business (World Bank, 2018). Contributing factors are the country’s political stability, a growing middle class and improved safety and security after the signing of a peace agreement in 2016.

Ease of doing business

67th

out of 190 countries (World Bank, 2019)

Currency

Colombian peso

Business language

Spanish

You're likely to need a translator

GDP per capita

$6,641

UK is $41,030 (IMF, 2019)

Economic growth

2.6%

(IMF, 2019)

Time zone

GMT -5

Opportunities for exporters

There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Colombia have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors.

Doing business Colombia

Preparing to export

Taxation

The UK and Colombia have signed a double taxation agreement, meaning the same income is not taxed twice. However, this is still due to be ratified and is not yet in force.

VAT

If you’re registered for VAT, it may be possible to zero-rate the goods you export to Colombia, provided certain conditions are met.

The standard rate of VAT (IVA) in Colombia is 19%. Certain products are subject to different rates.

Corporate tax

The company tax rate for a Colombian resident company is currently 33% of its taxable income.

Regulations

The National Tax and Customs Authority (website in Spanish) is in charge of financial regulation and tax collection in Colombia.

Colombia has a complex legal and regulatory framework. UK companies interested in more information should get in touch with DIT Colombia who can put you in touch with law firms and other entities that can advise on a case-specific basis.

Operating in Colombia

Challenges

Bribery, corruption, excessive red tape and high tax burdens are common challenges when doing business in Colombia. However, the Colombian government is committed to improving the economic environment and prospects look good.

The GAN Business Anti-Corruption portal provides some basic procedures you can establish to protect your company.

Intellectual property

As a first step, we advise you to speak to an intellectual property (IP) lawyer if you think you need patent protection when exporting.

Manufacturers and traders are strongly advised to patent their inventions and register their trademarks in Colombia.

Using agents and distributors

You’re advised to use an agent or a distributor. Colombians prefer to do business with foreign companies that have local representatives in the country.

UK companies entering into agreements in Colombia should seek professional advice.

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.