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COC Successful Trade Mission to Colombia

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The Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and the Holland House in Bogotá, Colombia organized a trade mission in Colombia from May 4 to 7, where local entrepreneurs and business organizations were given the opportunity to meet with potential customers, counterparts, and exporters.

TEXT FRANS HEILIGERS

The main purpose of this visit was to give local businesses a chance to explore the possibilities of exporting their products and services to the much larger market. With a domestic market of over 48 million consumers, a flourishing internal situation, and an attractive business climate, Colombia is currently one of the most successful and stable emerging economies in the world.

Promoting Mutual Business
On the first day of the trade mission, a seminar was held at the Chamber of Commerce of Bogotá where Mr. Willem Jonckheer, President of the CoC gave an introductory speech. He was followed by the Chairman of CINEX Mr. Luis Santine Jr., who spoke about the financial sector of Curaçao, as well as the different possibilities of trade and investment between the two countries. At least 50 Colombian companies were represented at this seminar. This was followed by an opportunity for Curaçaoan companies to individually meet possible new business relations from Colombia. The seminar confirmed the elements in favor of doing business with Curaçao: that the island is part of the jurisdiction of the Dutch Kingdom, that various languages are spoken (including Spanish), that compared to elsewhere in the region the general infrastructure is solid, that it has a good financial rating
(A -), and its role as a stepping stone to North America and Europe. The limitation of maritime transportation between the two countries is still an issue, but that may improve once demand increases.

Surprise Announcement The Curaçao Tourism & Business Center, located in the Holland House Colombia, was opened on the second day of the trade mission. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands had inaugurated the Holland House Colombia on November 22nd, 2013 as a joint project between the Chambers of Commerce of Colombia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This dedicated tourism and business center is an initiative of the CTB (Curaçao Tourism Board), CINEX (Curaçao Investment & Export Development Foundation), and the CoC (Curaçao Chamber of Commerce & Industry) to create a reference point for Colombian businesses and investors interested in doing business with Curaçao. During the opening ceremony, Mr. Jonckheer and CTB’s interim Managing Director Hugo Clarinda, announced that they had just been informed that as of July 1st, 2015, Colombians will not require a visa when traveling to Curaçao, whether for leisure or business. The expectation is that this new measure will also create new opportunities for trade and travel between the two nations. Curaçaoan authorities had been lobbying heavily for quite some time in The Hague to annul this visa obligation, in order to open the door for a much easier flow of persons and merchandise from Colombia to Curaçao. Even before this visa termination, the CTB had noticed a remarkable growth of visitors from Colombia, a trend that will get a boost under the new circumstances.

Participants Satisfied On the last day of the mission, several local companies met up with Colombian companies before returning to Curaçao and they all described the trade mission as successful. The delegation may have been rather small, but each of the participants is confident that this mission was productive, as they had been in contact with the right persons and entities to build new relations, something that will benefit all involved in the future. Some even expect to have concrete results within a short time frame, since they already have follow-up meetings on a B2B level.

For further information, also on future trade missions to Colombia, contact the Chamber of Commerce by e-mail: businessinfo@curacao-chamber.cw.