Colombia is not often recognized for manufacturing. However, manufacturing makes up nearly 20 percent of their exports thanks to its trade agreements and geographical location. The country has 15 free trade agreements, and preferential access to over 1.5 million consumers. In addition to offering competitive production costs, skilled labor, and administrative support.

Autos and Motos

Colombia is the fourth largest vehicle producer in Latin America with more than 130K units per year. The automotive industry here assembles cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles with the presence of 8 vehicle assembly plants. They are host to Chevy, Hyundai, Renault, Kia, and others. Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, and Chile are the main buyers of Colombian automotive manufacturing.

As a staple in Bogota traffic, Colombia is the second largest producer of motorcycles in Latin America also. They are home to 7 motorcycle assembly plants, and motorcycle production has grown an average of 16% since 2010. Factors such as increased financial stability and the growth of the middle class continue to encourage the manufacturing industry.

Women in Cosmetics

Colombian cosmetics represent 10.5% of total exports and is the number five largest market for cosmetics and toiletries in Latin America. The Productive Transformation Program oversees the government and private sector working together to ensure that Colombia is recognized as a world leader in the production and export of cosmetics and toiletries. More than 300 companies produce and package the products. The biggest enterprises include Kimberly-Clark, P&G, Unilever, and Avon.

What drives this industry? The women. The cosmetics industry is the second largest female labor market in the region. In Colombia, the number of female managers exceeds that of Canada, UK, Germany, Japan and France. In the last few years, they have seen 37% growth in the number of women in the workforce.

Textile Industry

Colombia has also made a global name for itself in the fashion industry. Alejandro Faes, a Mexican industrialist and ex-president of the International Apparel Federation, and Mauricio Guerrero, a journalist for Expansión, the most prestigious business magazine in Mexico stated:

“Colombia is a reference point for Mexico and other countries in Latin America regarding the design and development of textile –apparel products, which translates into products with a high aggregate value…this is the point which will truly allow it to compete against China’s great supply and stand out in world”

Textiles are another priority for the Productive Transformation Program positioning Colombian fashion as a World Class Industry. Colombia is the third largest market with the highest growth rate in the textile and fashion industry. Textile imports have grown 15% since 2010 to supply growing requirements of the local market and exporting to the United States, Mexico and Ecuador.

Columbia has made great strides in equal opportunities for women and creating education opportunities for the youth as well. Next time when you hear “Colombia,” stop thinking Sofia Vergara and think manufacturing.

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