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Why Colombia Will be Key to Sourcing in 2017

With technical textiles in high demand and Colombia increasingly equipped to produce them, 2017 will be an important year to turn to the country for sourcing.

Colombia has been known for its innovation in the apparel space and continuously develops new products, finishes and processes in line with global trends.

At the upcoming Colombiatex 2017 in Medellin, Colombia this Jan. 24-26, sun protective sportswear fabrics, eco fabrics made from recycled polyester, mosquito repellent fabrics and compression fabrics with nurturing properties for the skin will be just some of the products on display.

Sportswear is a key product for Colombia and most of the articles are made with Colombian raw materials. The country’s product portfolio includes apparel for yoga, fitness, biking, mountain climbing and extreme sports.

Buyers often turn to Colombia for its expertise in denim too. The country offers sourcing and full package services in indigo fabrics and manufacturers there are heavily focused on research and process optimization, enabling ease of response and adaptation to the demands of the market.

Companies are steadily looking to build stronger partnerships with their suppliers to be better equipped to manage in a demanding market, and last year Colombia was the first country in Latin America to achieve the highest satisfaction rating from IMD World Competitiveness Online. Skilled labor is readily available in Colombia too.

Colombia stands out for its broad offer, added value and its competitiveness in technical textiles for the automotive, construction, uniforms, sports clothing and control industries, said Felipe Jaramillo, president of ProColombia, the country’s export promotion agency. “These products, and their important benefits, enter markets with which we have important commercial agreements, whereby there are opportunities for growth in exports,” he said.

These agreements are especially vital at a time when the incoming U.S. administration is proposing new taxes on imports going into the U.S. Fortunately for Colombia, it enjoys duty free access to the U.S. market under a bilateral trade deal that, so far, isn’t under threat of removal or renegotiation. Colombia’s textile exports to the U.S. totaled $168.4 million between January and November 2016.

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This FTA has Colombia well positioned for business as usual in spite of global trade changes.

“Colombia, as an already established fashion industry supplier to the U.S., will continue to explore and locate business opportunities in the country with the lead of Procolombia’s team of advisors nationwide,” Jaramillo said. Colombia will look to deepen its relationship with the U.S. in terms of export growth and employment generation in the coming years.

The country also has 12 other existing trade agreements, giving it preferential access to markets including the European Union, Canada and Mexico, and has deals under negotiation with Japan and Turkey.

Colombia’s position and its proximity to the Panama Canal makes it a strategic connection between North and South America, and between the East Coast of the U.S. and Asia. In 2015, Colombia moved 2.4 million container units by sea and more than 980,000 tons of cargo by air.

Nearly 400 international buyers are expected to attend Colombiatex this month, and Colombia wants the show to complement the fashion system chain, offering both supplies and textiles during the main event and networking to connect buyers and suppliers at the show’s first ever business networking event.

“We are in the best moments of Colombia,” Jaramillo said. Colombia recently signed a new peace deal with the country’s main rebel group, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and that commitment has opened more doors for doing business in the country. “Given the new outlook of a bigger Colombia in Peace, which offers a stable more prosperous business environment, we expect that more companies worldwide will be interested in taking advantage of our textiles and apparel full package capabilities to supply their market needs.”