Advantages of the new free trade zone regime for doing business in Bogota

Fecha: 12 August, 2021
Las ventajas del nuevo régimen de zonas francas para hacer negocios en Bogotá

In 2021 a new free trade zone regime was decreed in Colombia with important changes that benefit companies and foreign investment. Learn about some of the advantages this regime brings for companies who plan to do business in Bogota.

The new free zone regime (Decree 278 of 2021) has characteristics that promote the attraction of domestic and foreign investment, economic recovery and the promotion of exports from Colombia.

Bogota continues to consolidate its position as one of the main cities for doing business in Latin America. In addition to its wide range of available human talent, strategic location, and economic strength, the city offers important incentives and ideal conditions for the attraction of foreign investment and the development of businesses in the region.

Among these incentives and conditions is included the new Free Trade Zone Regime (Decree 278 of 2021), which has important advantages, as shown below:

Allows remote work

The new free trade zone regime allows industrial service users to have 50% of their direct employees working remotely. This, as long as a commercial establishment or branch office is not established outside the free trade zone and the costs of the remote team do not exceed 30% of the total costs of the user.

This allows the decentralization of operations, optimization of infrastructure, reduction of operating costs, and, of course, goes in line with the new reality, and global work trends.

Reduces office procedures and deadlines

The free trade zone regime of 2021 reduces the procedures required for the declaration of a free trade zone from 57 steps to 24; and, by reducing the terms of response from public entities and applicants, it reduces by half the time required for this declaration, since it used to take 18 months and currently only 6. 

In addition, it unifies the extension term of the declaration of permanent free trade zone and special permanent free trade zone to 30 years. 

All of the above provides greater stability to the regime and allows companies to consolidate their investments in the shortest time possible.

Promotes e-commerce

In line with global trends, the new free trade zone regime involves e-commerce. Therefore, free zone users may make sales over the Internet, without being considered retail sales according to the terms of the National Tax and Customs Directorate (DIAN for its acronym in Spanish).

Consequently, sales made from a permanent free trade zone may enter the national customs territory under the modality of postal traffic and express shipments, as long as these goods do not exceed a value of USD 2,000 and a weight of 50 kilograms.

This reduces shipping costs and allows a better distribution of goods from the free trade zone to the different cities in Colombia and the region.

(Read 5 reasons why Bogota is becoming a potential transnational e-commerce hub)

Allows the conversion of special permanent free trade zones for services into permanent free trade zones

The present regime makes possible the conversion of special permanent free trade zones for services into permanent free trade zones oriented to export science, technology, and innovation services. 

This is especially relevant for sectors such as BPO and medical services, considering Bogota’s strong value proposition in terms of human talent and manufacturing capacity for pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Through the Free Trade Zone Technical Committee, created within the framework of the National Competitiveness and Innovation System in July 2021, an official public-private body is constituted to involves all stakeholders through constant dialogue.

This allows to promote the implementation of the Free Trade Zones 4.0 model and boosts investment and productive transformation. 

(Learn more about Operating environment in Bogota)

More than 960 companies operate in Colombia’s 112 free trade zones, employing more than 54,000 people.

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