For those who work in Colombia’s Industrial production, the news has not been good. According to government data, the country’s industry fell for the second consecutive year. Experts question the effectiveness of government policies and the emphasis on exporting raw materials over this sector. Will the Colombian industrial industry remain weak or will this change? CCTV Correspondent, Michelle Begue reports from Bogota.
Colombian shoemaker Freddy Molina, went from having 20 employees to just 10 in a number of years for his Exportadams business.
“People now a days can take any product, any style and sell it very cheap, why because of all the imports from China, Korea, and even Vietnam,” says Molina.
It has been difficult years for the national shoe production industry because of cheap imports, but government officials hope that is in the past. In 2014, the sector is embarking on the road of change through the country’s Productive Transformation Program. Launched in 2007, the program is a public-private partnership in eight sectors that lays out an economic development plan to become more globally competitive. But Freddy Molina says he still hasn’t seen any support.
“Maybe what we need is more collaboration from the government, maybe in terms of credits, in order to up production, and use more man power.”
But the Colombian Association of Shoemakers is optimistic as it estimates that in the next three to five years nationally produced shoes will make up 80 percent of the market – that is double of what it is today.
However, in the famous footwear neighborhood of Bogot called Restrepo, there are concerns about the free trade agreements with competing countries.
According to shoe makers, Colombians make good quality soles, But with the Pacific Alliance, a free trade agreement between Mexico and Colombia this could hurt the industry, as Mexican soles may invade the market.
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According to the World Competitiveness yearbook from the International Institute for Management Development, Colombia lost competitiveness from 2006 to 2012. Economist Jorge Gaitan says the loss is a reflection of the Colombian industry’s downward spiral. Colombia needs to move towards producing more sophisticated technological products, and Gaitan says there is room here for international partnerships.
“If it is explained in the right way, businessmen could see a great opportunity to ally with Chinese companies for example- which is being done in certain sectors- but it could be done in a systematic way to turn Colombia in an exporting platform.”
The National Business Association of Colombia or ANDI says the industrial sector has asked for government support for the transformation.
In 2013, Colombia’s industrial production declined by 1.9 percent. President of ANDI, remains optimistic for 2014.
Colombia’s Industry may have potential but have local consumers lost faith Paula Mantilla, a Colombian designer has been in the clothing industry for 20 years and has seen a huge decline. As Colombia’s economy opens up and imports soar, it has been hard to compete as buyers look for international products.
If Colombia’s industry wants to succeed it may have to work on getting Colombian faith back before it can convince the world to do so.
Follow Michelle Begue on Twitter @mbegu