Includes information on acceptable business etiquette, dress, business cards, gifts, etc.
Last Published: 7/31/2017

Colombia, in terms of natural and human resources, offers a strategic location, an educated workforce, and a well-developed industrial capacity. There is a lively international business community in Colombia, with hundreds of well-known, established companies that are committed to a long-term presence. Most companies know their risk profiles and take appropriate measures. It is expensive to do business in Colombia, relative to other Latin American countries. The cost of doing business in Cartagena and Bogotá reflect costs similar to major U.S. and European cities. The GOC is working to improve the country’s infrastructure (ports, roads, and communications) as a means of promoting a modern business environment and lowering operating costs.

Most business visitors tend to remain within the city limits of the major urban areas (Barranquilla, Bogotá, Cali, Cartagena and Medellin). Those who venture beyond these limits (often to visit oilfields and mines) do so under controlled conditions. As with anything in business, the key is to be aware and prepared.

There are distinct regional differences in Colombia. Coastal residents are more relaxed and open versus their inland counterparts. The Colombian private sector is well traveled and sophisticated. In all regions the business visitor will find serious, hardworking people who share many of the same work habits and ethics of business people in the United States.

Given the proximity of the two countries and the long-term presence of U.S. firms in the market, Colombians are used to doing business with the United States. Many of them have traveled to or studied in the United States and have family members or friends there. Colombian executives and technicians, as well as government officials, travel frequently to the United States for meetings, conferences, trade fairs, training and tourism.

Working breakfasts and lunches at hotels and private clubs have become common practice in most Colombian cities. Business attire is the norm. Dinner meetings tend to be less formal. Business cocktails and official receptions are common events and are used as opportunities to make contacts and discuss ventures. Colombian trade associations, government entities, and private firms are hosting an increasing number of national and regional conventions, conferences, and seminars in the country. These events present excellent opportunities for meeting Colombian business people and key government officials, as well as for assessing market potential.

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Colombia Trade Development and Promotion Business Travel and Etiquette