trade/industrial zones (zonas francas comerciales y/o industriales) were
created in Colombia in 1958 with the establishment of the Barranquilla
Free Industrial and Trading Zone. There are commercial free zones for
free trade of goods, industrial free zones for the promotion of
industrialization, technological free zones for the promotion of
technological services, and tourist free zones for the promotion of
tourism. Free-trade zones have regulations regarding customs and capital
investment and enjoy certain tax benefits.
By Law 7 and Decree 2131 of 1991, the Government of Colombia authorized
the liquidation of the assets and personnel of the public free trade
zones and their privatization by June 30, 1994. Five trade zones owned
by the Government were privatized (given for administration to the
private sector under a concession contract):
- Barranquilla, the main port on the Atlantic Coast;
- Cartagena (Mamonal), perhaps the most important industrial zone in
- Cúcuta, in the northeastern section of the country on the border with
- Palmaseca, close to the international airport in Cali (main city in
the State of Valle del Cauca); and
- Santa Marta, on the Atlantic Coast.
The private sector, authorized by the above-mentioned legislation, has
also constructed the following new free trade zones:
- Candelaria, in the city of Cartagena;
- Quindio, near the city of Armenia in the Colombian coffee region;
- Rio Negro, near the city of Medellín (State of Antioquia);
- Pacífico, near the city of Cali (State of Valle del Cauca); and
- Malambo, on the outskirts of Barranquilla (State of Atlántico).
Operators and developers of newly privatized or private free zones are
exempt from income taxes. Foreign-owned industries are exempt from taxes
on profits remitted abroad, and building materials, construction
equipment, and capital equipment for manufacturing plants can be
imported duty free. Inputs of goods and services for manufacturing
exports can be imported free of customs duties.