International trade and customs in Colombia

Araújo Ibarra Consultores Internacionales

Araújo Ibarra Consultores Internacionales is a undisputed leader in the field of trade and customs. Focusing on supporting national and international companies and governments in effective international trade strategies, the firm provides advice on free trade agreements and their rules of origin, international tax planning, taxation agreements and strategic export plans. Key names include managing partner and CEO Martín Gustavo Ibarra Pardo, a renowned strategist in international trade; Ricardo López, an expert in customs law and foreign investment; Olga Lucía Salamanca, a partner and director of the trade remedies and commercial policy department; and Lina Ocampo who is responsible for the area of international trade. All four co-head the trade and customs practice. Recent work highlights include advising the developer/operator of the first Special Economic Zone in Democratic Republic of Congo in a PPP contract.

Practice head(s):

Martín Gustavo Ibarra; Luis Ricardo López Sanchez; Olga Lucia Salamanca; Lina Maria Ocampo Tenorio

Testimonials

The work team has a high leadership capacity involving its different internal areas, as well as the different areas of its clients for the development of cases. With this office, you usually have a clear and comprehensive vision and strategy for cases in process.

‘We emphasise that in the interaction with the firm regarding our cases, a managing partner of the firm has always been involved, as well as senior lawyers. The foregoing has had an impact on being able to capitalise on the firm’s experience with a better approach and case development.

The people with whom we interact (president, managing partners, senior lawyers, etc.) denote a lot of experience and knowledge on the issues, a high level of leadership and relationship with their environment (private and public), commitment, empowerment of the issues and the search for comprehensive case management. We have perceived these capabilities very favourably in all of our cases.

Araujo Ibarra’s team shows great commitment to the activities in which it is involved. In the same way, the team works in coordination with its different internal areas, as well as with the different areas of the client, seeking to understand the different points of view of the process and thus have a comprehensive vision of it. The experience of working with them has been far superior to what we have experienced with teams from other firms.

Our cases have always been led by a managing partner of the team of lawyers, just as the team has usually been composed of senior lawyers. This has allowed a better development of the cases.

Key clients

Colceramica, Alfagres, Ceramica San Lorenzo Industrial de Colombia & Euroceramica

Tenaris Turbocaribe

Acerias Paz Del Rio, Ternium Colombia, Gerdau Diaco, Sidenal & Sidoc

Servicios Nutresa

Inversiones Valles Verdes

Zona Franca Del Pacifico (User Free Zone Operator)

Embassy of Brazil in Colombia

Zona Libre de Quetzal (Guatemala)

Consorcio de La Zona Franca de Barcelona (Spain)

Maluku Free Zone (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Work highlights

  • Advised the developer/operator of the first Special Economic Zone at one of Africa’s largest countries. Consultancy included transactional advisory in a Public Private Partnership contract, as well as the design of a state-of-the-art Free Zones legal regime.
  • Advised on the International Marketing Plan of a new Special Economic Zone in Guatemala.
  • Advised the Consorci Zona Franca de Barcelona on the modernisation of its offer regarding growing e-commerce market.

Ibarra Abogados Rimon Law

Boutique firm Ibarra Abogados Rimon Law specialises in international trade/WTO, customs and competition matters, and provides counsel to both private and public sectors concerning the negotiation and application of bilateral and multilateral agreements. Founding and managing partner Gabriel Ibarra Pardo heads the department; he fields an impressive track record in  international trade, competition law and customs matters, more than 30 years of experience advising national and multinational companies, as well as organisations such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Cartagena Agreement Board and Agriconsulting Europe (AESA). Alejandro Ibarra focuses on customs, foreign trade and energy and gas issues following his return to the firm and subsequent promotion to partner in 2018. Also of note is Ana Lucía Parra, who handles antitrust, unfair competition and consumer protection matters. Senior associate Adriana Cortés and associate Natalia Torres, who specialises in antidumping, countervailing duty and safeguard investigations, provide key additional support.

Practice head(s):

Gabriel Ibarra

Testimonials

Ibarra Abogados are experts in commercial defence, and they keep us updated with national and international regulations as well as the development of processes similar to ours in other countries. They offer viable alternatives with deep knowledge of our problems.

Great professionalism, excellent technical knowledge of our commercial defence issues and a very personalised relationship on the part of the partners and lawyers of the firm.

Ibarra Abogados has helped us introduce the first anti-circumvention case in Colombia.’

The team must know: the regulations on trade defence measures. Namely: anti-dumping duties, countervailing duties and safeguard measures at the multilateral (WTO), bilateral (bilateral agreements signed by Colombia), and national (internal legislation) levels. Know the legal requirements, the applicable procedure and the positions adopted in advanced controversies. The firm’s recommendations are always framed by legality and are issued in strict accordance with legal mandates and consulting doctrinal developments.

There is an atmosphere of harmony between the team members and those in charge of their management.

Ibarra Abogados has a well-deserved prestige for the seriousness, knowledge and responsibility of its members.’

The team has technological instruments that allow it to carry out permanent consultation of international legislation and doctrinal developments and jurisprudential decisions.’

Teamwork is carried out where the knowledge and experience of its members are shared among them. All with the highest legal rigour.’

Key clients

Fedemetal / Asociación Nacional de Empresarios de Colombia (ANDI)

Asociación de Cultivadores de Caña de Azúcar de Colombia (ASOCAÑA)

Colgate Palmolive

GP Cars

Alimentos Polar Colombia

Pfizer

Work highlights

  • Ongoing advice to Fedemetal – Asociación Nacional de Empresarios de Colombia (ANDI), the association of the domestic welded-steel-pipe industry, in an antidumping investigation into the importation of Chinese welded steel pipes.
  • Ongoing advice to Pfizer in a certificate-of-origin controversy within the appeal regarding a decision adopted by the administrative courts on the validity of certificates submitted by Pfizer in support of the importation of certain medicines (so as to gain access to the preferential treatment accruing from the US-Colombia FTA).
  • Providing permanent counsel to Colgate-Palmolive in matters of customs law and foreign trade.

Brigard Urrutia

The customs and international trade practice at Brigard Urrutia receives high praise from clients for the depth and strength of knowledge of its partners.  Advising national and international public and private entities on the planning of their cross-border operations, the firm is known for its involvement in customs disputes and trade remedies investigations. The client roster features companies across myriad sectors including, but not limited to, retail, government, computer services, aerospace and pharmaceuticals. Practice head Jose Francisco Mafla is highly experienced in regulatory and transactional matters related to customs and foreign trade operations, including customs requirements, trade remedies, WTO regulation and free trade agreements. Senior associate Camilo Castrillón, who specialises in foreign investment and free trade zones, and associate Gerardo Chadid, are both noted.

Practice head(s):

José Francisco Mafla; Carlos Fradique-Méndez

Testimonials

This is a complex practice that requires a team with specialised legal knowledge and strong support in financial and economic matters, especially for commercial defence cases (anti-dumping).

They have an excellent legal team that is complemented by an excellent team for financial and economic related matters.

It is a team aimed at solving legal issues or problems in the best way, based on support on economic and financial issues.

Personalised attention, impeccable service and accurate information. I think it is one of the best in legal services and being multifaceted and having various practices make it comprehensive.

Their closeness and adaptability to the challenges of the company and their flexible and adaptable service orientation make them stand out. They differentiate themselves by not only doing their legal work but also promoting that the company they advise meets its objectives with them. They put on the shirt.’

The service in general is very good, they are very professional in the information they provide.

Brigard Urrutia stands out for providing a quality service on time, looking for the best alternatives for the organisation.’

In general, the service of Camilo Castrillón and Evelyn Cañón, I especially highlight the human quality and the very good customer service of Evelyn Cañón.

‘Jose Francisco Mafla – knowledge – availability.

The firm dominates various matters of law, which makes its service competitive by attacking the same matter, validating different points of view, taking care of detail and always with expected ethical standards.

It is of great value for every client of the firm, to receive informative notes by mail, as well as the publications of its website, regarding topics of interest in legal and government matters in Colombia, reforms among others that can avoid or mitigate controversies legal requirements of a client.

I consider that the timely monitoring of a client’s affairs, especially if the client is a foreigner and it is already a challenge to coordinate legal matters remotely, all the personnel involved in the matter are well coordinated and aware of the agreed steps to follow with the client.

Key clients

Federación Colombiana de Productores de Papa (FEDEPAPA)

Grupo UMA

Panel Rey

Sociedad Portuaria El Cayao (SPEC)

Aluminum & Glass Products

Empresa Colombiana de Cables (EMCOCABLES)

Superpolo

Work highlights

  • Currently advising the Colombian Federation of Potato Producers in an antidumping investigation (sunset review) against Belgian, Dutch and German imports of frozen potatoes.
  • Advised Grupo UMA on obtaining authorisation to operateas a Free Trade Zone Industrial User of Goods and Services.
  • Intervened before the Colombian Tax and Customs Authority (DIAN) to obtain an extension to the client’s qualification as a private deposit for industrial processing.

Forero Medina & Abogados Asociados

Forero Medina & Abogados Asociados is a boutique firm led by specialist Andrés Forero, who is a leader in the sector. With more than 10 years' experience in the market, the firm is well positioned to handle an array of customs and international trade issues including taxation, administrative litigation, foreign exchange, leasing and free trade zones, among other areas. Julián Valencia, the senior associate heading up the regulatory affairs and health regulation practice, is also noted.

Posse Herrera Ruiz

The international trade and customs practice Posse Herrera Ruiz offers comprehensive advice across the full spectrum of related issues. The ‘very strong and agile team’ is 14-strong and has an impressive track record representing major international clients in the field. Its roster includes companies across a number of sectors such as manufacturing, retail, petroleum, steel exportation, public transport, energy and agribusiness. Specialising in international trade taxation and free trade zoning matters in particular, the department is led by Juan David Barbosa, who displays a ‘high level of knowledge and commitment’. Barbosa has many years of experience in customs and international trade proceedings and litigation as well as in the development of import-export tax efficient strategies and trade remedies investigations, including antidumping, countervailing duties and safeguards. Expert in customs litigation matters, Juan Camilo De Bedout is a standout partner. Associate support is provided by Ana María Vega and Juan David López, while senior partner Juan Guillermo Ruiz is also a key member of the team. Since the close of research the firm has boosted the team with the October-2021 hire of María Paula Sánchez -as practice director- from her own firm, Legal Comex; formerly also at Araújo Ibarra Consultores Internacionales, Sanchez is an experienced practitioner with particular expertise in the economic aspects of anti-dumping matters.

Practice head(s):

Juan David Barbosa

Testimonials

All PHR teams are efficient, cohesive, knowledgeable about the issues in their respective area, providing a timely response to the needs of their clients.’

The most notable differentiator in general is the charisma that extends to all as an organisational culture; they always maintain a readiness to attend to needs, even in exceptional cases where problems have arisen outside of working hours.

The area of ​​foreign trade is very technical and complex, which means that having good lawyers and experts in the field is key. PHR’s international trade and customs lawyers are excellent, very reliable and with an incredible disposition, in addition to being always prepared, trained and very collaborative.

It is an aligned team, very professional and responsible. They are very reliable lawyers and have a very commercial mentality that helps to solve problems that we have in companies.

Juan David Barbosa is our main contact and he has always shown a high level of knowledge and commitment in the issues that he has had to see us through.

Among their most outstanding qualities is the camaraderie and warmth in the treatment, their professionalism and permanent updating, in general, the simplicity both in the way of approaching the client and in the way in which they express legal knowledge. In my opinion, Juan David Barbosa, Juan David Velasco and Juan David López stand out.

It is a very strong and agile team that understands what business needs to get through and their focus is to find out how to get through safely. The firm has very capable people in their fields with the support of specialists in specific areas when the complexity of the case requires it.

 

Key clients

Diageo

adidas

Kimberly-Clark

Repsol

Syngenta

CTIC

Procolombia

Sovena

3Sixty (formerly, DFASS Group)

Zona Franca Barranquilla

Yara

JVL

Geotech

Work highlights

  • Advised the multinational beverage giant, Diageo, in a process in which its Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottles are sold online and then brought into Colombia, where local artisans then manipulate the bottles so that they become collectible items that are sold through auction.
  • Advised the international sportswear manufacturer, Adidas, in a customs valuation case.
  • Advised Kimberly-Clark, an American multinational personal care corporation, in successfully requesting special permits to export materials that were controlled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

CMS Rodríguez-Azuero

The customs and international trade team at CMS Rodríguez-Azuero offers comprehensive advice to national and foreign companies, preparing operational and strategic alternatives for customs optimisation. The firm has experience in customs and trade litigation concerning administrative and judicial authorities, and is also active in foreign exchange-related matters. Partner Santiago Arbouin joined the team in June 2020, following his departure from Unalegal, and leads the customs and trade practice - as well as co-heading the tax team. Arbouin is a specialist in local and international tax, customs tax, foreign trade, and customs law from the strategic planning perspective.

Practice head(s):

Santiago Arbouin

Testimonials

Very professional and solid team; Karl Mutter.

CMS Peru and CMS Colombia work together for cross-border issues. Very good integration and collaborative work.

Key clients

FCC Aqualia

IMCD Group

CI Ecoexim

MA Creative Production Group Colombia

Consorcio Fibra Óptica 2019 – SFI

GSP Servicios Generales – AUNA

Harinera del Valle

Bold.Co

Corel

Work highlights

  • Advised the Client, a global leader in the sales, marketing, and distribution of specialty chemicals and ingredients, in a customs law and trade and foreign exchange due diligence process.
  • Advised the client on customs and foreign trade planning, seeking the most efficient tax and customs structure for the company.
  • Advised the Client, a leading marketing company, on the tax structuring and customs planning of import and exports operations;  including a general foreign trade plan.

Goh

Boutique firm Goh - best known for its expertise in tax - also boasts a strong offering in international trade, providing advice on planning, structuring and implementing operations in transactions involving foreign trade, customs and foreign exchange matters. The practice acts for a number of national and international clients, facilitating the transition for companies to achieve more agile foreign trading operations in the context of customs control regulations. Practice head Juan Pablo Godoy is managing partner, leading on foreign trade, mining and oil law, while also maintaining a role in the firm's reputable tax practice. Associate practice director Andrea Caicedo, who has experience in foreign trade, customs duties and foreign-exchange regulations matters, is the other key name to note.

Practice head(s):

Juan Pablo Godoy; Andrea Caicedo

Testimonials

Closeness and availability to assertively meet the needs of the company. Juan Pablo Godoy is a broad connoisseur of Colombian regulations and has vast experience in the sector. His total availability to attend to the company’s requests for advice is highlighted, as is his agility in responding to formulated requirements.

I think the Godoy team is very prepared in the business issues our business group is dedicated to, from real estate and customs, to trade and regulatory matters.

It certainly compares well to other qualified law firms in Colombia. The plus that the Godoy team has is that they adapt to the needs of the business, they are always one step ahead which helps us to better negotiate each project we have.

The qualities they have are, proactivity, honesty, responsibility, negotiation skills.

The attorneys who will attend us are: Álvaro Sabbagh, Ricardo Pava, Andrea Caicedo and Juan Pablo Godoy.

Given the current situation, Godoy helped us to manage the formalisation of our contracts in a more practical way, digitally (they have managed their documents in a digital way for a long time, from invoices, reports, notifications etc.).

Key clients

Strabag

Signet Armolite Colombia

Gran Colombia Gold

Occidental de Colombia

Vitol

Essentia

Intimains

Constructora Meco (Costa Rica)

Exxon Mobil

Scotia Global Business Services

Velia

Ocensa

Operalogística

Work highlights

  • Assisted the company in the structuring of a foreign trade and exchange model that allowed them to advance financing operations for infrastructure projects in Colombia by reducing the exchange rate risk. This advice allowed the company to obtain economic benefits during a period in which the economy and the price of the dollar were affected by the global pandemic.
  • Supporting the company in the process of managing its stocks after requesting disqualification as a free zone user. The client is relinquishing its status as a free zone user and in this process, there are some stock inventories that must be submitted in order to comply with the undertakings and the clearing process as free zone users. The firm supported them in 2020 in the process of verifying compliance with customs obligations and those derived from their status as free zone users with the customs authority.
  • Advising our client, a Canadia fund,  in a large process of reorganisation and restructuring of the company, paying special attention to everything that has to do with foreign investment and its registration with the Banco de la República. This case involves the entire investment structure of the company, covering foreign trade and customs issues, foreign exchange and foreign investment matters.

Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA)

The ‘excellent' Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA)) holds a strong reputation in customs planning work for Colombian and international clients, including advice on matters relating to free trade zones, AEO submissions, customs warehouses, port submissions and foreign exchange. The firm possesses a solid client roster of companies spanning an array of industries, such as mining, retail, hospitality, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and transport logistics. The team, under the leadership of director and expert international trade practitioner Nicolás Potdevin Stein, also demonstrates considerable experience in customs and foreign exchange disputes and litigation. Key associate support is provided by Natalia Ibañez.

Practice head(s):

Nicolás Potdevin Stein

Testimonials

Our company is attended by Nicolas Potdevin, who periodically approaches our company to know what new needs we are facing, how we feel about the relationship with the firm and what opportunities there are for improvement.

Excellent customer service from the firm.

Key clients

Cementos Argos

Procter & Gamble

Maaji

Laboratorios Osa

Onelink

Cenit Transporte y Logística de Hidrocarburos

Bavaria (AB InBev)

Globant

Esenttia

Interllantas

Industria Colombiana de llantas (Michelin)

Work highlights

  • Permanent advice to the company on its foreign trade operations, cross-border business structuring, foreign exchange compliance-oriented to imports and exports, and free trade zone operation, among other day-to-day queries.
  • Advised OneLink on the extension of its free trade zone, which was key to allowing the company to maintain its operations in Colombia.
  • Advice to the company on cases related to the Free Trade Zone regime, customs and international trade, including customs planning and modifications of import returns, and origin rules of the FTAs.

Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría

Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría has a wealth of experience acting for, and in, domestic and international operations and transactions involving foreign trade, customs and foreign exchange related matters – facilitated in part through its access to the network of international offices via its collaboration with Uría Menendez. The firm focuses on the provision of tax planning and customs advice, as well as in the structuring of legal customs alternatives, such as special import-export services, Plan Vallejo, free trade zones and international trading companies. Martin Acero and Carolina Rozo – both leading specialists in international taxation – co-head the five-strong practice.

Practice head(s):

Martín Acero; Carolina Rozo

Key clients

Abbot Laboratorios de Colombia

Diaco

Sonova

Cogent Communications Colombia

Under Armour

Terminal de Contenedores de Cartagena

Sociedad Aeroportuaria de la Costa (SACSA)

Termoyopal

Termovalle

Acepalma

Work highlights

  • Advised Diaco with regard to the fulfilment of foreign exchange regulations in Colombia, inolving a profound assessment of the foreign exchange status of a domestic company so as to better understand its compliance status.
  • Advisor to Under Armour on the internal procedures, policies and practices of the Colombian Customs Authority, so as gain release of  the client’s merchandise into national territory.
  • Ongoing advice to Acepalma on its day-to-day operation to import goods into Colombian territory from free trade zones, so as to stimulate the company’s economic growth, development and share in the Colombian market.