Scots firms harnessing potential of virtual trade mission to Colombia

A delegation of Scottish small and medium-sized enterprises has joined a mostly virtual trade mission to Colombia as businesses look to new markets in the wake of Brexit.

The International Trade Partnership (ITP) venture is the first-ever trade mission to South America backed by the Scottish Government and involving the Scottish Chamber of Commerce network.

Led by Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce (ICC), it is aimed at forging new trade links in key Latin American industries including renewables, food and drink, particularly distilling and coffee production, manufacturing, education and even football.

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Through the mission, more than 30 delegates and 16 participating businesses from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverclyde are paired with local partners in relevant industries.

From left: Diana Peralta of DP Global; ICC CEO George McKay; ICC executive assistant Heather Maclaurin, and Max McFarlane of Ardgowan Distillery. Picture: Elaine Livingstone.

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The British Chamber of Commerce (BritCham) says Colombia is the fourth-largest economy and third-largest country in Latin America, with Scottish firms already benefiting from strong trade links there including spirits giant Diageo, while the UK’s biggest export to Colombia is whisky.

The ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic means much of the mission has taken place online, but there are plans for in-person visits.

One business hoping to benefit from the mission is Ardgowan Distillery, whose founder and chief executive Martin McAdam said has already begun working on its Latin American test market strategy as a result of participation in the mission.

Ardgowan Distillery boss Martin McAdam says the firm has started working on its Latin American test market strategy due to its participation in the mission. Picture: contributed.

He said: “We now have a clearer picture of what is required to do business in the country – and by extension other adjacent countries.”

Potential

The UK’s Ambassador to Colombia, Colin Martin-Reynolds, is from Airdrie, and he says there is a real appetite to see more British – and Scottish – products, companies and business people in the South American nation, while governments in both countries are “working hard to break down any barriers to trade”.

Michael Phillips, executive director of BritCham Colombia, said: “Colombia is a relatively untapped market for Scottish businesses, with a growing middle class, with developing tastes and likes.

“We see huge opportunities in food and drink, alcoholic beverages, all kinds of tech, including security, medical, agribusiness, education, and financial solutions... there is a wealth of opportunity for Scottish business here.”

The Colombia mission will be the first in a series driven by ICC and the ITP, with others to Italy and Miami on the cards.

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