The desire of the people of Antioquia to connect with the rest of the country, without having to face long hours or even days of travel due to the geography of the department, is being achieved little by little with advances in road infrastructure. In this understanding, the next big step is to be a world reference and attract investment from all fronts.
The things that have businessmen thinking are no longer so much about whether there is infrastructure or foreign clients, but about the talents necessary to make the leap abroad. Bilingual professionals and technological profiles are increasingly required and the rush to find them seems to be a barrier to internationalizing the department.
This is explained by Sandra Ospina, director of Internationalization and Access to New Markets of the Government of Antioquia, who, however, assures that little by little subregions such as the East, the Southwest and Urabá –in addition to the Aburrá Valley– are becoming more connected with the abroad through trade in goods and services (see Chart).
According to her, not finding bilingual staff makes the work of tourism companies particularly difficult, while more technological profiles are required given the region’s momentum as center of international firms, and to open the field for the Paisa industry in other countries.
The conversation took place regarding a meeting between local unions and the Ministry of Commerce, which took the opportunity to socialize the findings of the Departmental Index of Internationalization, in which Antioquia appears third, behind Bogotá and Caldas.
Despite the tasks mentioned, the report values that Antioquia has the largest number of exporting MSMEs in Colombia – without specifying how many – and the second largest exporting and importing business sector; It is also doing well in terms of the number of foreign visitors and the number of international events held.
Of course, the region is lagging behind in cluster initiatives, which are those that “seek to accelerate innovation, technological development and the internationalization of companies so that they can compete efficiently in the market,” according to Bancolombia, and it still needs to diversify the countries to those it exports.
According to Marco Llinás, adviser to the Higher Council for Foreign Trade, these gaps will be closed as Antioquia becomes more internationalized. The department has the potential to help Colombia export more industrial products, food and services, and attract investment through the relocation of companies and the arrival of tourists. On paper, the basis is: a commitment to promote innovation, agricultural potential, progress in infrastructure and growth in tourism