You are in:

PROCOLOMBIA identified options to increase Colombian exports of food products, apparel and manufactured goods to the 28 countries that make up the region.

The three conditions that make the Caribbean market one of the strategic destinations for Colombian exports right now are the following: It has one of Latin America's largest populations, import trends, and demand for products that Colombia can offer.

Together, the population of the Caribbean islands totals 70 million potential buyers of Colombian products:  According to the Caribbean Tourism Organization - CTO -, 41 million are residents and 29 million are tourists (mostly from the United States, Canada and Europe).

"Moreover, the 28 Caribbean countries lean more towards imports than local production, so we've identified an opportunity for a large variety of products in various sectors, including food, apparel and manufactured goods," explained PROCOLOMBIA President María Claudia Lacouture.

In 2012, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) alone, which includes 14 countries and five associated states, purchased USD 795.9 million in apparel; USD 3,942 million in agribusiness products; and USD 21,762 million in manufactured goods, according to information provided by Trademap.

Similarly, the trade bloc has a Partial Scope Agreement with Colombia which allows it to import Colombian products such as raw materials and semi-processed goods, all duty-free.

Logistics is another competitive advantage, according to Lacouture. "Transit time varies between two and six days by sea from Colombia. This allows Colombian entrepreneurs to get there faster than other suppliers, including Asians, and in the same time frame as Americans."

Learn the Market Trends

For the agribusiness sector, PROCOLOMBIA found that the institutional channel is one of the marketing niches it can take advantage of in venues such as hotels, restaurants and government purchases. In order to beat the competition, it is important to enter the market not only with quality products and competitive prices, but also with attractive packaging and labels in English.

In the area of apparel, design is vital, as consumers look for style and relate garments from abroad with status. It is also important to remember that the market requires large sizes and flexible clothing, which is important in positioning the brand. Soft material that is appropriate for tropical weather should be used.

Uniforms is an interesting niche. The designs tend to be practical and easy to wash and iron. Hotel uniforms in particular have potential.

Manufactured goods with potential are varied, as are the trends. In cosmetics, for example, the demand corresponds to a growing interest in skincare, and particularly in chemical-free products.

Another segment with potential is construction. Specifically in the case of Puerto Rico, there is potential to export wooden doors that offer design and exclusivity, made of solid cedar, mahogany and eucalyptus.

Some Business Opportunities

Agribusiness: oils and fats, sugars and honeys, cocoa and coffee derivatives, processed fruit and vegetables, candy, baked goods and flour-based products, spices, tobacco, meat and edible offal, drinks, animal feed, and live animals.

Manufacturing: graphics, furniture, construction materials, electrical appliances, household items, cosmetics, toiletries and cleaning products, agricultural and industrial machinery, paper and cardboard, auto parts, containers and packaging, plastic and rubber, pharmaceutical products, and chemical products.

Apparel: home linen, casual wear, underwear, swimsuits, shoes, and uniforms.

Services: engineering, export of specialized health services, graphics and editing, service outsourcing (BPO), software, and audiovisual for advertising.

Business opportunities have also been statistically reported. According to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism with data from DANE, there were products exported in 2012 that had not been exported in the previous three years. Among those products are sugarcane, corrugated paper, glass products and television receptors.

Creation date: