MIAMI, Fla.– Colombia is holding its 50th Business Matchmaking Forum in Bogota this week, hosting a total of 1,228 international buyers and 2,734 national exporters. The event is expected to generate more than US$140 million in agreements between Colombian exporters and international businesses from more than 58 countries. The United States and Canada are represented by a record number of companies, including major brands such as Coca-Cola, Verizon and Perry Ellis, among others, said a release.
The first business matchmaking forum was held in 1997. Nearly 200 entrepreneurs from the US visited the country to meet with approximately 400 of their Colombian counterparts. Over the last 17 years, more than 8,500 entrepreneurs from 70 countries have participated in the Matchmaking Forums, which have become an important tool for learning about Colombian businesses and the goods and services they provide.
This year, 323 US companies and 98 Canadian companies are expected at the forum, which aims to strengthen the trade agreements currently in force in Colombia, which have value-added benefits for buyers who decide to do business in the country, such as the reduction or removal of customs tariffs, customs cooperation and assistance, and cross-border services, among others, said the release.
“We will break all of our records for business participation, but more importantly the event shows that Colombia has a growing reputation as an international supplier. The matchmaking forum establishes a strategic platform to allow national companies to diversify their markets and identify new trade opportunities with niche products. Meanwhile, international buyers are able to take advantage of the diverse, competitive and innovative products that Colombiaoffers,” said Maria Claudia Lacouture, President of Proexport Colombia, the agency charged with promoting trade, foreign investment and tourism.
More than 60 percent of buying companies attending the Business Matchmaking Forum in Bogota are attending for the first time, and 14 markets that had never participated in these events before will also be represented. FromColombia, 40 percent of exporters participating in the 50th forum have never attended before.
The forum will be held on February 19th and 20th, 2014 at the Corferias International Business and Exhibition Center in Bogota.
Concurrently, the first virtual business matchmaking forum will also be held, allowing foreign buyers that are unable to travel to Colombia to meet via teleconference with Colombian exporters of their choosing. Companies from countries such as the U.S., Canada, Spain and Costa Rica will interact with at least 50 Colombian exporters through a videoconference system, allowing for 180 virtual business meetings. Proexport created this system in order to provide opportunities to smaller buyers.
There will also be a manufacturing sector investment opportunity seminar with 42 potential and existing investors who are considering Colombia as their next investment destination.
Participating exporters and buyers span 140 different subsectors from within the areas of agribusiness, services, manufacturing and clothing. In the past few years, Colombia has seen increased demand for fresh flowers, fruits, textiles and services such as animation and business process outsourcing (BPO).