Firms To Watch: International trade and customs

Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’ nascent trade practice is noted for its growing activity in the customs sphere; senior associate Juan David López spearheads the team and specialises in foreign exchange, customs, and foreign trade matters.

International trade and customs in Colombia

Araújo Ibarra Consultores Internacionales

International trade is a mainstay at Araújo Ibarra and the boutique is widely lauded for its ‘great experience and deep knowledge of trade matters’. The deep and broad practice offers comprehensive coverage of trade law and related issues, with extensive expertise in trade strategy, free zones, free trade agreements and customs law — both advisory and contentious matters. Managing partner Martín Gustavo Ibarra Pardo is a 50-year veteran expert in trade law and demonstrates ‘excellent management of foreign trade issues and free zones’. Other key names include Olga Lucía Salamanca, who fronts the trade remedies and commercial policy department. Juan David Barbosa left the firm in November 2022 to establish his own practice, LegalB; and former international trade practice head Lina Ocampo and Ricardo López departed in August 2023. Since publication, the firm has hired Andrea Caicedo from Goh as IT&C practice director - effective as of November 2023.

Practice head(s):

Martín Gustavo Ibarra; Olga Lucía Salamanca; Lina Ocampo


A top team! And a great practice.

We value lawyers for their great experience and deep knowledge of trade matters!’

We value its knowledge of customs and foreign trade.

Martín Gustavo Ibarra demonstrates excellent management of foreign trade issues and free zones.

It fields a highly prepared team of professionals, who adapt well to challenges.

We highlight the group for the personalised attention from its partners.

Key clients


Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade

Tenaris TuboCaribe

Loceria Colombiana


Refinería de Cartagena (REFICAR)


Bicicletas Milán




Work highlights

  • Advised Curinde, Curaçao’s free zone operator, on the development of an economic strategy, among other issues.
  • Represented Locería Colombiana in the five-year review for the renewal of the anti-dumping duties in force on imports of china and porcelain tableware from China.
  • Advised Refinería de Cartagena on various matters, including free trade zones, foreign trade and customs-related issues.

Ibarra Abogados Rimon Law

Lawyers at Ibarra Abogados Rimon Law are roundly praised for their ‘expert knowledge’, with sources asserting that ‘the team’s experience makes it stand out over its competitors’. The international trade and competition boutique fields an interdisciplinary practice, which is equipped to provide full-spectrum coverage of trade remedies, trade policy, customs law and related litigation. Founding partner Gabriel Ibarra Pardo has a 30-year track record in advising domestic and multinational companies, multilateral agencies, and public sector entities on trade and customs work, including sensitive WTO dispute settlement matters. Other key contacts include Ana Lucía Parra, whose practice spans customs, competition, consumer protection and administrative law; and Alejandro Ibarra, who advises corporate and public-sector clients on foreign trade, customs law, and free trade zones, among other issues. Director Natalia Torres left in May 2022 to become a senior consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Practice head(s):

Gabriel Ibarra Pardo; Ana Lucía Parra; Alejandro Ibarra


The firm’s main partners get involved in the work, providing the customer with the experience necessary to resolve the problem requested.

The team’s experience makes it stand out over its competitors. It staffs its  teams with experts who have handled similar cases to the one being dealt with.

Lawyers possess expert knowledge. The team’s experience and professionalism makes it unique.

We value lawyers for their experience, knowledge of the subject, and sense of responsibility.

Key clients

Federación Nacional de Biocombustibles de Colombia (Fedebiocombustibles)

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



Thomson Reuters Practical Law

Revista Industria Legal

Lincoln Soldaduras de Colombia

Mcdermott, Will and Emery




Rheem Industria Chilena

Work highlights

  • Representing Federación Nacional de Biocombustibles de Colombia before the Consejo de Estado in a case brought by importers challenging the imposition of countervailing duties on imports of ethanol from the US.
  • Acting for Pfizer on an appeal regarding the validity of the certificates of origin in the importation process of some medicines, in order to gain access to the preferential treatment accrued from the FTA between Colombia and the US.
  • Providing ongoing advice to Colgate-Palmolive on customs law and foreign trade matters.

Brigard Urrutia

Brigard Urrutia’s international trade team scores highly for its ‘very unique vision that is focused on the client and finding practical solutions’. The practice encompasses a broad scope of trade and customs matters, with strong recent showings in anti-dumping investigations, customs disputes, free trade zones, and transactional support matters. A ‘benchmark in his field’, key partner Jose Francisco Mafla sits in the corporate and M&A, and international trade and customs teams; he specialises in advising on regulatory and transactional matters intersecting customs and foreign trade law, including trade remedies and WTO regulation. The group also fields two up-and-coming rising stars in associate director Camilo Castrillón (‘extensive knowledge of the law’) and intermediate associate Gerardo Chadid (‘thinks of innovative solutions for different problems’).

Practice head(s):

José Francisco Mafla; Camilo Castrillón


Brigard Urrutia’s customs and international trade practice is excellent. The lawyers on the team have an exceptional level of knowledge, the documents they deliver are of the highest quality, and a high level of rigour is evident in everything they do.’

The team has a very unique vision that is focused on the client and finding practical solutions to highly complex problems. At Brigard Urrutia, lawyers are very efficient compared to other teams.’

José Francisco Mafla has extensive knowledge in international trade and the interpretation of international treaties and is an excellent lawyer. Jose’s deliverables and presentations are always of the highest quality.’

The team is highly qualified in finding efficient and safe solutions, showing that it is up-to-date in the branches of law in which we contracted its services. Additionally, it keeps its clients updated with constant newsletters, which reduces potential legal risks.

Lawyers have broad experience, which makes their recommendations full of options. The team is comprised of highly trained personnel providing expeditious attention to their clients, and thus achieves the commercial and legal objectives of the clients they serve.

José Francisco Mafla has extensive experience, is a benchmark in his field and has good customer management. Associate Gerardo Chadid is our main contact and it is a pleasure to work with him; he is always available to support us, providing the best advice thanks to his knowledge of the sector.

Director Camilo Castrillón has extensive knowledge of the law. He conducts his work with empathy, great communication skills and abilities. His experience as a professor is exceptional for handling different issues in front of the client, its directors and shareholders.

I especially highlight the work of Gerardo Chadid, who is an exceptional associate with extensive knowledge in all areas of foreign trade and customs law. He has a business approach and thinks of innovative solutions for different problems.’

Key clients

Sociedad Portuaria El Cayao (SPEC)

Odata Colombia

Empresa Colombiana de Cables (EMCOCABLES)

Continental Industries

Schneider Electric de Colombia


Agencia de Aduanas KN Colombia

Annar Diagnóstica Import

Work highlights

  • Advised Odata Colombia on the process of adding 172,000 sqm to the Metropolitan Free Trade Zone.
  • Represented Federación Colombiana de Productores de Papa (Colombia’s Federation of Potato Producers) in an anti-dumping investigation into Belgian, Dutch, and German imports of frozen potatoes.
  • Advised Sociedad Portuaria El Cayao (SPEC) on the process of obtaining authorisation as an International Logistics Distribution Center.

Posse Herrera Ruiz

Posse Herrera Ruiz’s international trade group stands out for its ‘combination of legal and economic knowledge’. Among its other key attributes, the team’s ability to lean on other departments from across the full-service firm stands as an asset in larger matters. Director and practice head María Paula Sánchezgenerates trust and facilitates teamwork’; she is particularly recommended for her activity in anti-dumping investigations. Other key contacts include experienced tax and foreign trade counsel Ramiro Araujo Segovia; tax — including customs tax — specialist Juan Guillermo Ruiz; and tax, customs, and transfer pricing litigator Juan Camilo De Bedout. At associate level, Ana María Vega is highly regarded for her focus on customs and international trade law; while Daniela Lozada concentrates on tax, customs, and international trade litigation. Since publication, Sánchez has been raised to the partnership - effective as of March 2024.

Practice head(s):

María Paula Sánchez


The international trade and customs team is very efficient and knowledgeable about procedures in Colombia. I highlight its combination of legal and economic knowledge that is so important in trade disputes. María Paula and her team are accessible and easy to work in a co-ordinated and harmonious way.

María Paula Sánchez is excellent in the area of international trade. Not only because of her experience and knowledge of the rules and procedures, but also due to her knowledge of the environment and the authorities. I also highlight her human quality; she is a person who generates trust and facilitates teamwork.

We also highlight Natalia Monroy, associate of the international trade team. Natalia is dedicated and efficient in her work. She is also highly responsive to clients’ needs.

The team is highly trained and proposes practical solutions based not only on knowledge, but also on experience.

Lawyers are always willing to help and prioritise requests.

Key clients

Hogan Lovells (US Ethanol Associations and Murex)

Government of Colombia (National Planning Department)

Government of Colombia (Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism and Procolombia)

Fundación CTIC – Centro de Tratamiento e Investigación sobre Cancer Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo

CI ADM Colombia

Anadarko Colombia Company (Colombia branch)


Diageo Colombia

Adidas Colombia

The American Metal – Packaging Colombia

Work highlights

  • Advised the National Planning Department on evaluating competition within a sector of the Colombian economy, with an emphasis on non-tariff barriers to foreign trade that could restrict free competition.
  • Advised the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, and Colombia’s Export promoting entity, Procolombia, on an extensive study of the local regulation on the trade of services.
  • Advised Centro de Tratamiento e Investigación sobre Cáncer Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo (an oncological hospital built in a Free Trade Zone), on the trade operations required for the acquisition of equipment under the Free Trade Zone regime.

CMS Rodríguez-Azuero

CMS Rodríguez-Azuero is noted for its ‘quick reactivity in the face of continuous last-minute requests’. The group’s experience encompasses a varied mix of trade work, including trade remedies and dispute resolution, with an emphasis on customs matters such as customs compliance audits and customs tax. Key contact Santiago Arbouin heads both the tax practice and the customs law and trade department and is recommended for his customs tax planning expertise. The team was strengthened in January 2022 with the hire of Nicole Ríos, as associate practice director, from Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría. Ríos joins a team that includes associate Natalia Recio, who also splits her time between tax and trade work, is valued for her ‘extensive knowledge of customs issues’, and was promoted to practice coordinator in April 2023.

Practice head(s):

Santiago Arbouin


The main point to highlight is the team’s quick reactivity in the face of continuous last-minute requests. Lawyers are always willing to attend to our needs and requirements as a priority, which makes us feel like special clients. It works as a partner, helping to push us towards our joint goals.

Natalia Recio (associate) has extensive knowledge of customs issues, and her contributions have always been key to the development of our requests. Her English language skills are also at a high level, which facilitates international interactions. Natalia works with Santiago Arbouin and Nicole Rios (director).

Key clients

Cerámica Italia

Vygon Colombia

Mercado Libre Argentina

Sun Dreams

Milenio PC



Elanco Animal Health


Work highlights

  • Advised Cerámica Italia on day-to-day customs issues and foreign trade matters.
  • Advised Vygon on the planning and implementation of its system of imports and exports with related parties, reviewing the feasibility of price increases under the transfer pricing regime and modifications to customs declarations.
  • Advised Scania on various matters, including identifying customs and trade efficiencies in its business model.

Forero Medina & Abogados Asociados

Foreign trade and customs boutique Forero Medina & Abogados Asociados stands out for the experience of Andrés Forero, who is considered by many as a reference in the international trade area. The team has experience across a range of international business planning, customs law, and tax planning matters. Associate Daniel Santa Caldas provides dedicated practice support, with notable experience in competition and consumer law-related issues.

Practice head(s):

Andrés Forero


The two-lawyer team at Goh has a focus on foreign trade matters relating to wider transactions, including customs planning and foreign exchange-related issues. It also leverages the firm’s formidable tax practice to pack a punch in contentious customs tax, with strong recent showings in litigation before DIAN (the National Directorate of Taxes and Customs). Founding partner Juan Pablo Godoy spearheads the department and combines strength in foreign trade, tax, and mining and natural resources. Associate director Andrea Caicedo specialises in foreign trade, customs duties, and foreign exchange regulations. Since publication, Caicedo has left the firm - effective as of November 2023.

Practice head(s):

Juan Pablo Godoy

Key clients

Area Limpia Distrito Capital

Sinergias Ecológicas de Colombia

Aris Mining

Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM)


Occidental Petroleum Corporation

Quala Colombia

Belia Trading Colombia


Interconexión Eléctrica

Oleoducto Central Ocensa

Work highlights

  • Advised Area Limpia Distrito Capital on designing a strategy to recover the VAT paid to the DIAN (the National Directorate of Taxes and Customs) for the importation of waste collection equipment that generates environmental benefits.
  • Advised Sinergias Ecologicas De Colombia on its reorganisation and restructuring, including foreign trade and customs matters.
  • Advised Aris Mining on its reorganisation and restructuring, including customs and foreign investment-related matters.

Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA)

Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA)’s international trade practice is particularly weighted towards customs work, including customs planning, free trade zones, port filings and litigation. The team also has experience in advising on foreign trade transactions and free trade agreements. Department head Nicolás Potdevin Stein is widely recognised as a specialist in customs law, with strong expertise in disputes as well as general advisory work. Associate Andrea Mora Ramírez provides dedicated practice support, with a focus on free zones, tax, and customs law.

Practice head(s):

Nicolás Potdevin Stein


Gómez-Pinzón Abogados’ international trade and customs team stands out for its in-depth knowledge. I value its success stories concerning previous situations that have developed before the courts, this ensures strong advice.

I highlight Nicolás Potdevin Stein for his excellent interpersonal relationships with clients, his closeness, clear communication and willingness to answer questions. I also highlight his deep knowledge in tax and customs matters, which has generated important results before the courts.

Key clients

Federal Express Corporation



Getcom Colombia


Laboratorios Baxter

Sociedad Portuaria Terminal De Contenedores De Buenaventura

Kuehne + Nagel

CI Cargill De Colombia

Glaxosmithkline Colombia

Comercial Alpa

Glencore Colombia

Comercializadora Internacional De Llantas

Zona Franca Santander

Motul Ibérica (Colombia branch)

Bavaria y Cia

Sistemas Colombia

Procter & Gamble Colombia

Work highlights

  • Advised FedEx Corporation on customs and foreign trade legislation applicable in Colombia.
  • Advised JGB on the presentation of a legal claim against the official customs classification of antiseptic alcohol, issued by the Colombian Customs Office.
  • Advised Onelink on free zone regime-related matters.

Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría

The multidisciplinary international trade practice at Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría is distinguished by its ability to draw on the wider firm’s top-tier tax offering to pack a punch in customs tax planning. Other strong skill sets include free trade zones, foreign exchange law and customs-related litigation. The department is led jointly by managing partner and prominent tax expert Martín Acero, together with tax specialist Carolina Rozo, and director of the Barranquilla office, Héctor Ramírez, who also focuses on tax law.

Practice head(s):

Martín Acero; Carolina Rozo; Héctor Ramírez

Key clients

Cartones América

Under Armour

United Parcel Service of America

Sociedad Portuaria Regional de Cartagena

Manufacturas Eliot

Coliseo Live

Alpha Capital

Gestión de Servicios Globales

Builder Commerce Colombia

Bacardí Martini

Work highlights

  • Advised Cartones América (and its shareholders located abroad), on investments in foreign companies, and on structuring a flow of funds from Colombia under the foreign exchange control regime.
  • Advised Gestión de Servicios Globales on designing and implementing two business models to support the commercial relationships between a company located in Colombian customs territory and its economically related party located in a Colombian free trade zone.
  • Advised Under Armour on the creation of an international trade structure through which the client could avoid the apprehension of certain shipments by the Colombian customs authority.