Firms To Watch: International trade and customs

Baker McKenzie S.A.S. ‘s international practice is expected to gain traction in the market following recent investment and the May-2021 hire of international trade-focused senior associate Juan David López —formerly at Posse Herrera Ruiz— to lead the burgeoning practice.

International trade and customs in Colombia

Araújo Ibarra Consultores Internacionales

A high-level international relations firm‘, Araújo Ibarra Consultores Internacionales is respectively valued both as ‘an authority in the free zone field‘ and as an ‘expert team for trade defence issues‘. Indeed, the group stands out as a market leader for its truly comprehensive coverage of the international trade sphere, with specialist offerings in trade strategy, free trade agreements, customs law and dispute resolution. Among the names to note, managing partner Martín Gustavo Ibarra Pardo is widely revered as a go-to specialist for his extensive experience at the forefront of international trade law and his impressive market connections. Additionally, Ricardo López is noted for his expertise in customs law and foreign investment matters. Lina Ocampo, who directs the international trade practice, and Olga Lucía Salamanca, who directs the trade remedies and commercial policy team, are also recommended. The group was further boosted by the arrival of international trade specialist Juan David Barbosa, who joined in October 2021 — he was formerly department head at Posse Herrera Ruiz.

Practice head(s):

Martín Gustavo Ibarra Pardo; Ricardo López; Olga Lucía Salamanca; Juan David Barbosa; Lina Ocampo


A high-level international relations firm that is active in a large number of countries. Lawyers know the benchmarks, best practices and trends in the Free Trade Zone and actively participate in forums and high-level international conferences. The team provides leadership in terms of free trade zones; it is an authority in the free zone field.’

A very expert team for trade defence issues. The firm manages processes very comprehensively due to its internal resources — I did not need to hire outside professionals to handle any aspects of the renewal of anti-dumping measures. Although everything is included in the fees, the relevant issue is not savings, but that the management is absolutely coherent and co-ordinated.’

The firm includes expert lawyers, including partners who have very good relationships with all interested parties, as well as technicians for economic issues, etc. The team pushes perfectly; there was a lot of work we had to do on our side to meet their expectations and we always received feedback on what we needed to do.’

I find the team excellent and its strengths are its contacts, knowledge and experience.’

The team’s ‘plus’ is the experience gained over so many years and the professionalism that is evident in its work.’

Martín Gustavo Ibarra Pardo is an authority on free zones and provides close support.

Key clients

Zona Franca Del Pacifico (User Free Zone Operator)

Comercializadora Internacional de Llantas

Halliburton Latin America (sucursal Colombia)

Zona Franca Parque Central (User Free Zone Operator)

Tenaris TuboCaribe

Loceria Colombiana

Nutresa, Colombina, Nestlé, Alpina, Alquería, Super de Alimentos

Acerías Paz del Río, Ternium Colombia, Gerdau Diaco, Sidenal, Siderúrgica Del Occidente (SIDOC)

Cables de Energía y Telecomunicaciones (CENTELSA)

Productora De Alambres Colombianos (PROALCO)

Work highlights

  • Represented Zona Franca Del Pacifico (User Free Zone Operator) in litigation concerning customs sanctioning matters.
  • Acted for Comercializadora Internacional de Llantas on administrative litigation regarding tariff classification to achieve the correct subheading classification of tires for off-road use.
  • Represented Tenaris Tubocaribe in the anti-dumping investigation into imports of certain seamless or welded steel tubes from China, which resulted in the imposition of a provisional duty.

Ibarra Abogados Rimon Law

Demonstrating ‘extensive experience in international trade and customs law', boutique firm Ibarra Abogados Rimon Law is lauded for its deep knowledge and effective management of complex cases. The group expertly handles the full scope of international trade matters, including trade remedies, free trade agreements and customs matters, and it routinely works alongside economists, engineers and auditors to provide a holistic service to clients. Among this team of ‘broad thinkers who come up with creative, yet practical solutions', managing partner Gabriel Ibarra Pardo stands out for his ‘ability to formulate extremely persuasive arguments quickly'. Ibarra is highly sought after for his experience in cutting-edge matters and recently represented domestic producers of galvanised steel sheets in the sunset review and anti-circumvention investigation regarding anti-dumping duties imposed on imports from China; this was notably the first anti-circumvention petition filed in Colombian history. Other senior names include Ana Lucía Parra, who is noted for her experience in customs, unfair competition and administrative law, and competition and international trade partner Alejandro Ibarra. Senior associate Natalia Torres demonstrates ‘a complete mastery of Colombian trade law' and is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Gabriel Ibarra Pardo


The team is highly skilled in international trade matters and lawyers are extremely knowledgeable with respect to administrative agency proceedings and the law. They are also broad thinkers who come up with creative, yet practical solutions for their clients.’

‘This firm has extensive experience in international trade and customs law. It processes a large amount of information and data. Lawyers are experts in obtaining the best results in the cases they work on, they are very efficient in their work and demonstrate high effectiveness and significant precision in their advice.’

‘The lawyers of this firm show exceptional kindness and closeness to their clients. We work with them with ease because they always have a great disposition and quickly and effectively respond to queries. They are flexible and always take into account the client’s opinion, to which they add the necessary value to defend their interests.’

‘It is a holistic practice, not only the substantial, substantive, methodological and procedural issues are taken into account, which are fundamental for the construction of a strong case, but also the external factors that could affect the final decision are evaluated, such as those of a political nature.’

‘In addition to the team’s experience, deep knowledge of the issues and step-by-step and meticulous follow-up of the process, lawyers are always up to date on the matters they deal with and respond immediately to any requirement or need that arises. They have an outstanding recognition among their colleagues as well as among the authorities, tribunals and courts.’

Gabriel Ibarra is a superb lawyer and advocate. I am truly impressed with Gabriel’s ability to formulate extremely persuasive arguments quickly. He is devoted to his clients and passionate about his work. He shines particularly when it comes to oral argument.’

Natalia Torres demonstrates a complete mastery of Colombian trade law and procedures. Extremely competent and thorough. A joy to work with.

Key clients

Manufacturas – Matecsa

Acesco Colombia

Federación Nacional de Biocombustibles de Colombia (Fedebiocombustibles)

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

Aluminio Nacional (in reorganisation)



Thomson Reuters Practical Law

Chapman Tripp

Revista Industria Legal

Work highlights

  • Ibarra Abogados represented Manufacturas in an anti-dumping investigation into imports of steel profiles from China, which resulted in the imposition of anti-dumping duties.
  • Represented Acesco Colombia, as Colombian producers of galvanised steel sheets, in the sunset review and anti-circumvention investigation regarding anti-dumping duties imposed on Chinese imports; this was the first anti-circumvention petition filed in Colombian history.
  • Acted for Federación Nacional de Biocombustibles de Colombia (Fedebiocombustibles) in a case brought by importers before the Consejo de Estado against the imposition of countervailing duties on imports of ethanol from the US.

Brigard Urrutia

Brigard Urrutia‘s international trade practice strikes the right note with its ability to ‘simplify complex issues‘ as well as for its provision of recommendations that are ‘on point and easy to implement‘. A prominent player in trade remedy cases, the firm is significantly involved in five of the six anti-dumping investigations that are currently being conducted by the Ministry of Trade. Customs disputes, free trade zones and free trade agreements are also areas of experience. Jose Francisco Mafla, who is admitted to practice in Colombia, New York and before the US Court of International Trade, is an increasingly prominent name in the market; he handles an array of customs issues, trade remedies, WTO regulation, free trade agreements and dispute resolution. Mafla co-leads the department alongside associate director Camilo Castrillón, who is particularly noted for his focus on foreign investment and free trade zones. Intermediate associate Gerardo Chadid provides specialist support.

Practice head(s):

Jose Francisco Mafla; Camilo Castrillon


‘It is the best in its field. Being a young team, it has great experience and customer management superior to firms with extensive experience. Lawyers perfectly understand our sector and simplify complex issues for our understanding. Recommendations are always on point and easy to implement.’

‘Jose Francisco Mafla and associate Gerardo Chadid are the best foreign trade advisers I have had the pleasure of working with. They can make an easy and quick reading of any change in subject matter and recommend us, in a timely manner, ways to comply with current and new regulations. We always count on them to make transcendental decisions for our company.’

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)


Mexichem Colombia


Work highlights

  • Advised TDCX Holdings on the application for the declaration of a Single Enterprise Free Trade Zone (FTZ) — the project was approved and it is therefore operating within the special FTZ regime.
  • Represented Mexichem Colombia’s interests in an investigation into whether the elimination of the anti-dumping duty imposed on imports of the plasticizer DOP from Mexico and the Republic of Korea would allow the continuation or recurrence of dumping, injury and the causal link that was intended to be corrected.
  • Successfully represented the largest Colombian producer of steel wire ropes and strands in a sunset review seeking a five-year extension of the anti-dumping duty currently applicable to imports of steel wire ropes and strands from China.

Posse Herrera Ruiz

Posse Herrera Ruiz‘s international trade practice has witnessed some significant changes of late. Most notably, director María Paula Sánchez joined the group in October 2021 from her own firm, Legal Comex; she now heads the department, following the departure of former practice head Juan David Barbosa the same month. At the end of 2021, the firm also added former sole practitioner Ramiro Araujo Segovia as counsel. The team also leans on the senior expertise of customs tax specialist Juan Guillermo Ruiz, as well as tax and customs litigator Juan Camilo De Bedout. Key names at associate level include Ana María Vega, whose practice focuses exclusively on international trade and customs law; and Daniela Lozada, who advises on tax, customs and international trade litigation. Associate Juan David López left in May 2021.

Practice head(s):

María Paula Sanchez


‘The team’s strong points are its knowledge of the topics, its responsive follow-ups and its practicality in recommendations.’

‘We value lawyers for their practicality.’

Key clients



Optum Global Solutions Colombia


Yara Colombia

CI ADM Colombia

Anadarko Colombia Company (sucursal Colombia)


Diageo Colombia

Ciclotrón Colombia

Luzar Trading

Madecentro Colombia

Work highlights

  • Advised United Health Group subsidiary Optum Global Solutions Colombia, on obtaining approval for a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to facilitate a business outsourcing process (BPO).
  • Successfully represented Adidas’ interests in the judicial process related to a customs valuation controversy regarding imports.
  • Advised Norwegian chemicals multinational, Yara, regarding an analysis of the import operations of bulk and customs operations which involve the participation of different related companies located in several jurisdictions.

CMS Rodríguez-Azuero

Noted for its ‘closeness, quality and price', CMS Rodríguez-Azuero's customs law and trade group is primarily active in transactional support matters. In particular, it advises clients conducting cross-border deals on the application of multilateral treaties, customs and trade planning, foreign exchange matters and related litigation. Tax specialist Santiago Arbouin leads the department —he also co-heads the firm’s tax practice— and is noted for his strength in local tax, international tax, customs tax and foreign trade and customs law. Associate Natalia Recio, who sits in the customs law and trade and tax practices, is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Santiago Arbouin


The team has a great knowledge of the Colombian market and in particular of international trade and customs issues related to medicines and medical supplies.

‘We recommend the team for its closeness, quality and price.’

‘We value the firm’s knowledge of tax issues.’

‘In general, the firm has a very good work team. Credibility is demonstrated in the information lawyers provide to suggest solutions to all concerns.’

‘Lawyers remain close and they know the subject.’

‘Santiago Arbouin and associate Natalia Recio have always given us the support to get the best solution to all the situations we have come across. Their responses are detailed, correctly supported and within the established times.’

Santiago Arbouin is a professional of the highest level.

‘We particularly highlight Santiago Arbouin for his up-to-date knowledge of tax regulations.’

Key clients

IMCD Group

Trinity Capital


Promotora ACR

Compañía Internacional de Integración- CI2

GSP Servicios Generales – AUNA


EOR Colombia

CI Ecoexim

Work highlights

  • Advised FCC Aqualia on a foreign exchange due diligence process.
  • Advised IMCD Group on a customs, trade and foreign exchange due diligence process.
  • Advised CI Ecoexim on customs and foreign trade planning, seeking the most efficient tax and customs structure for the company.

Forero Medina & Abogados Asociados

International trade boutique Forero Medina & Abogados Asociados is recommended on the back of the reputation of firm founder Andrés Forero, who is widely recognised as a leading light. The team is well versed across a range of customs and international trade law, including free trade zones and administrative litigation. Senior associate Julián Valencia provides support on regulatory and consumer protection matters.

Practice head(s):

Andrés Forero


According to satisfied clients, Goh possesses ‘up-to-date knowledge on the most relevant international trade, customs and foreign investment matters'. The wider firm’s strength in tax matters is reflected in the group’s robust customs tax expertise, and lawyers also bring experience in free trade agreements, foreign exchange matters, special import and export schemes and free trade zones. Founding partner Juan Pablo Godoy oversees the practice and is noted for his combination of tax, trade and natural resources expertise. Associate practice director Andrea Caicedo specialises in the planning and structuring of customs, foreign trade and foreign exchange transactions.

Practice head(s):

Juan Pablo Godoy


The team provides outstanding legal services with depth and up-to-date knowledge on the most relevant international trade, customs and foreign investment matters across various industries.’

Associate Andrea Caicedo is an excellent attorney with in-depth knowledge and expertise on the legal matters she provides advice on. Fully committed to comply with clients’ needs.’

Key clients

Area Limpia Distrito Capital

Grupo Lemco

Gran Colombia Gold Segovia (sucursal Colombia)

Empresa de Medicina Integral EMI

Gases del Oriente

Exxon Mobil

Scotia Global Business Services (Scotiabank)

Belia Trading Colombia


Interconexión Eléctrica

Oleoducto Central Ocensa

Work highlights

  • Acting for Area Limpia Distrito Capital on designing the strategy to recover the VAT paid to the DIAN for the importation of waste collection equipment that generates environmental benefits, and in the administrative processes in cases where the DIAN has denied the refund.
  • Advising Grupo Lemco on the reorganisation and restructuring of the company, particularly matters relating to foreign investment and its registration with the Banco de la República.
  • Advising Gran Colombia Gold Segovia (Colombian branch) on the reorganisation and restructuring of Zenk International Minerals, paying special attention to matters regarding customs and foreign investment and its registration with the Banco de la República.

Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA)

Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA)‘s international trade practice is particularly recognised for its robust customs offering. Combining expertise in customs planning work with experience in free trade zones and foreign exchange matters, the group’s specialist focus ensures that it is also routinely involved in related litigation. Department head Nicolás Potdevin Stein — who was promoted to partner in January 2022 — is noted for his track record in customs and foreign exchange disputes, alongside general advisory matters. Associate Andrea Mora Ramírez specialises in advising clients on the free trade zone regime, tax and customs law.

Practice head(s):

Nicolás Potdevin Stein


‘In my opinion, the most important ‘plus’ of Gomez Pinzón Abogados is that it is an interdisciplinary team that has lawyers specialised in different areas. For example, they have been our advisers on tax, customs, labour, foreign trade and corporate issues.’

I consider that customer service is one of the strengths of the firm. Lawyers care about understanding and acting according to the needs of the client. The knowledge and experience in the issues is also another strength that the firm demonstrates. We particularly highlight Nicolás Potdevin Stein for his client service.’

‘I consider all the lawyers I worked with to be full-fledged professionals with great experience in the issues we have dealt with. Additionally, they are always willing to help and provide good recommendations to prevent us from having future legal problems.’

Key clients

Cenit Transporte y Logistica de Hidrocarburos

Celsia Colombia


Getcom Colombia


Hitachi Energy Colombia

Sociedad Portuaria Terminal De Contenedores De Buenaventura

Kuehne + Nagel

Depósito De Medicamentos Emes

Glaxosmithkline Colombia

Comercial Alpa

Glencore Colombia

Comercializadora Internacional de Llantas

Cabot Colombiana

Medtronic Colombia

Motul Iberica (sucursal Colombia)

Bavaria & Cia

Work highlights

  • Advised Cenit Transporte y Logistica de Hidrocarburos on customs and free trade zone matters.
  • Acted for Celsia Colombia on the structuring of an electric power purchase and sale operation in compliance with free trade regime rules.
  • Advised Onelink regarding the free trade zone regime.

Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría

Over the past year, Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría advised a string of clients on foreign exchange matters. The team is also equipped to advise on customs law — both contentious and non-contentious — the free trade zone regime, and trade remedies. Managing partner and tax specialist Martín Acero co-leads the group alongside fellow tax expert Carolina Rozo and Barranquilla-based Héctor Ramírez, who is also a tax partner.

Practice head(s):

Martín Acero; Carolina Rozo; Héctor Ramírez

Key clients


Under Armour

Sociedad Aeroportuaria de la Costa (SACSA)



Cogent Communications Colombia


Compañía Envasadora del Atlántico

Several private clients

Work highlights

  • Advised Diaco regarding foreign exchange regulations in Colombia.
  • Advised private clients in relation to the foreign exchange aspects of their foreign investments.
  • Advised CI Girdle & Lingerie on several foreign exchange matters, including on a legal and foreign exchange analysis of its corporate structure and operations.