Georgia becomes first US State to open trade office in Colombia

Posted on Jul 8 2014 - 6:23pm by Today News
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The State of Georgia, USA,  has  a commercial office in Colombia located in Bogota, local media reported on Tuesday.

Georgia has already opened international offices in Brazil, Chile and Mexico, reported Colombia’s El Espectador newspaper.

Georgia is the first U.S. state to have a representative office in Colombia, and hopes to gain an advantage in the market because of this, according to a press release from the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Commissioner Chris Carr.

“Strengthening our international trade representation is crucial to economic development in Georgia,” said Carr, “Being the only U.S. state with representation in Colombia, Georgia is taking the lead in the global marketplace.”

Exports from Georgia to Colombia include computer and technology products, electrical equipment, processed foods, chemicals, paper and transportation equipment, according to Global Atlanta, a Georgia-based business news outlet.

80 U.S. Businesses interested in Colombia

Juan Carlos Lopez, director of the Commercial Offices of Georgia for Colombia and Mexico said that the office started operating in March, according to El Espectador. In the past year, around 80 businesses have shown interest in starting business activity in Colombia.

20 U.S. businesses are already registered for two trade missions throughout Colombia that the office hopes to organize in the next few months. The first begins in August.

“The intention of these assignments is to bring businesses that have demonstrated interest in the Colombian market, and who want to open their operations in the market, either through a distributor or an ally,”Lopez said.

According to Georgia’s director of international trade, Kathe Falls, “Georgia is ranked as the nation’s 12 largest exporting state based on dollar value of exports and additional international representation will help move Georgia’s export ranking forward.”

The office is interested in suppliers and allies in commercial areas such as agricultural, aviation, construction, food services, the environment and clean technology, and paper and chemical industry, reported El Espectador.

Though U.S. exports to Colombia increased 15% in 2013, Colombia saw a 13% drop in exports to the U.S. the same year, contrary to estimations of a 10% increase in exports to the U.S according to government officials.

MORE: Colombia’s exports to US drop 13% after FTA

Colombia’s growth, coal and FTA attract new office

Lopez explained that the state decided on Colombia for an international office upon seeing the development of the Colombian Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA),  a free-trade agreement which went into effect in 2012.

The FTA eliminated tariffs on 80% of U.S. exports such as agriculture, technology, and medial supplies, according to Global Atlanta. “Georgia exported an average of $255 million in goods to Colombia from 2008-2010, and with trade barriers being eliminated, that number will grow larger and faster,” Lopez said in a press release on Georgia’s official government webpage.

The trade agreement has previously proven controversial, with farm leaders in Colombia expressing concerns over the long-term effects of the CTPA.

MORE: Colombian farmers ‘under serious threat’ from free trade agreement: Agricultural organizer

“We specifically looked at Peru, Panama and Colombia, countries with free trade agreements with the U.S.A. It was determined that while each market offered many strengths, Colombia was the best match for Georgia at the time,”  Falls said in February during discussions surrounding the opening of the office according to Global Atlanta.

Strong, long links to Colombia

Colombia’s Coal Marketing Company Ltd. (CMC) has been based in Atlanta, Georgia since 2006.

CMC, according to their official website, is the exclusive marketer for thermal steam coal produced in Colombia’s largest coal mining complex, Cerrejon, owned by BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Glencore.

Colombia’s thriving economy is also of strong interest to U.S. businesses looking for suppliers in Colombia. “The eagerness from Georgia companies to attend trade shows and events in Colombia is a good sign that the Colombian market is attractive to Georgia-based businesses,” Lopez said in a press release.

The Bogota-based office looks “to make the most of the business opportunities that Colombian companies can give,” Lopez added according to El Espectador.

MORE: Colombian GDP to grow 4.3% in 2014: International Monetary Fund

Sources

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