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Free Zone Monitor

Meet a Member - Mrs Nivea Santarelli, General Manager Zona Franca Santander

27 December 2015

​1.     Tell us about your free zone.

Zona Franca Santander Offshoring & Outsourcing Park, is a platform designed and recognized from the beginning as the first free zone in Colombia oriented to the global services sector offering companies and national and international investors the best solutions and alternatives for their offshore and outsource operations. In addition to the benefits and incentives received from the national regulation of free zones in Colombia, the most competitive in South America, Zona Franca Santander Offshoring and Outsourcing park, which permits access to national and international markets with multiple free trade agreements, offers world class infrastructure, security, and strategic location, a conjunction of customer support services, and flexible real estate options. Each of these components is backed by a promise of specific value whose purpose is to generate and capture aggregated value for businesses that carry out their activities in the Park.

Santander Zone counts on a business model whose platform is lined with strategic sectors of high and long-term impact: global services, high aggregated value manufacturing, and logistics & distribution. This dynamic is reflected in 43 installed companies, whose employment operations generate more than 1,700 jobs to date. Parallel to this, Santander Zone fulfills a strategic role in development permitting the continuous growth of human capital in the region, the creation of new businesses, and the strengthening of the industrial fabric of the region through the consolidation of clusters and the production chain.

2.     What are your milestones to date?

  • Santander Trade Zone was created in 2007. An initiative led by strategic actors of the region faced with the necessity of being able to count on an instrument for the promotion of competitiveness and looking to stimulate external investment in the region by implementing free trade regulation.
  • In 2009, Santander Trade Zone was accredited as Operating User and receives the declaration and the first permanent free trade zone of the department of Santander, from National Tax and Customs Department of Colombia (Direccion de Impuestos y Aduanas Nacionales de Colombia), the governmental institution in charge of this, through resolution 012842.
  • By the end of 2012, the installment of the first certified user, whose operations concentrated in the global services platform, Arvato-bertelsmann from the Bertelsmann group installed an offshoring operation for the Spanish mobile phone market. To date it is the biggest employer of the park
  • In 2014, our zone occupied first place in regards to employment generation of the group of trade zones created starting in 2009 in Colombia. It was responsible for the creation of close to 60% of the employment in all the zones in the country.
  • This year, we managed to confirm the presence of a second offshore operation, this time for the American market, which we're expecting to begin its operations in the first trimester of 2016.

This month Zona Franca Santander Offshoring & Outsourcing Park received the recognition from the FDI Intelligence firm. "Global Free Zones of the year Awards 2015", is a publication associated to the British paper 'Financial Times' as the best free trade zone of South America and the only one globally positioned in four categories:

- Awarded "Best Free trade zone of South America"

- Distinguished as an exemplary Free Zone in Latin America and the   Caribbean.

- Awarded for BPO/Outsourcing services.

- Awarded for training and abilities.

3.      Why did it decide to become member of World FZO?

Free trade zones have become a strategic actor of aggregated value chains. Today they're part of the competitive stage in order to create new business opportunities for many companies and investors worldwide, permitting the diversification of their operations and integration into the economic dynamic of the world. For Santander Trade Zone, it is of great importance to be a World FZO member, an organization of renown prestige and trajectory, where we hope to contribute in generating alliances, exchanging better practices and close gaps between different members on a global scale.

4.      What benefits have been gained?

As an integral organization World FZO facilitates growth opportunities, promotes and strengthens information links, with the purpose of contributing and impacting positively the economy and generating a distinguished position in the business environment. Thanks to its leadership and intermediation capacities, we've been able to expand our business networks and allies, reinforcing the role of free trade zones as a fundamental asset for the development of new competitive organizations of world recognized scale.

5.      What would your message be to other free zones and associations looking into becoming part of the World FZO?

​Free zones were made with the purpose of becoming a space where investments would be diversified, generating employment and economic growth on a global scale. It is necessary to be able to count on strategic allies such as the World FZO; its role as leading organization of this sector globally allows growth in competitive levels through the tools it offer.