The plastic materials and resins sector in Colombia has great growth potential for U.S. products due to its market size, international competitiveness and low investment barriers. As source of direct and indirect exports (including packaging), this sector is one of Colombia’s most important industrial clusters.
The total market for plastic material and resins has grown steadily in the last three years. In 2008, the market reached USD 2.4 billion growing 15 percent over 2007. However in 2009 growth slowed to 1.9 percent due to the world financial crisis. Industry projections are that the sector will grow five percent in 2010. This is a demand driven market which correlates closely with Colombia’s GDP growth in recent years.
With no local manufacturing of plastics machinery and equipment, Colombia imports almost all required equipment. However, equipment represents only 6.4 percent of all imports, the lion’s share of imports are materials and resins. In 2009, the U.S. led the market in supplying materials and resins with a share of 33.3 percent followed by Mexico (13.8 percent), South Korea (seven percent), China (seven percent) and Brazil (5.5 percent). Italy is the market leader for equipment imports. Statistics for local production are scarce. Local production is normally exported.
The annual per capita consumption of plastic resins in Colombia is approximately 19.7 kilograms for 44 million habitants. Expansion of the plastics production cluster in Colombia will be linked to supplying regional markets. Basic plastic forms account for 42.7 percent of the sector’s gross production, while plastic items account for 57.3 percent. Eighty-two percent of the imports are slabs, sheets, films and plates, 40 percent are for plastic, rubber footwear and parts, about 16 percent are for items for packaging or transportation, including plastic zippers and closures and the remaining for diverse plastic manufactures.
Colombia will eliminate tariffs on 60 percent of resin and manufactured plastic exports immediately upon ratification and implementation of the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. Tariffs on another four percent of exports will be eliminated over five years, and tariffs on 30 percent will be eliminated over seven years. Only six percent of U.S. plastics exports will be subject to ten-year staging in Colombia.
The historic demand for resins shows an average increment of 9 percent per year. Total consumption for 2008 and 2009 are estimated to be 956 tons and 1040 tons respectively. Best prospects for plastic resins imports for Colombia are:
• Polyethylene of 0.94 weight or more (HDPE)
• Polyethylene of 0.94 or less (LDPE)
• Polyvinyl Chloride
• Polyesters Best products for plastics machinery and equipment are:
• Injection Molding
• Blow Molding • Vacuum Molding
The Colombia market for plastic and resins and production equipment is extremely attractive because local industry does not have enough installed capacity to produce sufficient material for local consumption. The best prospective buyers are the big industry and PYMES (Small and Medium Enterprises) in the following sectors:
• Packages and packing
• Agro industry
• Home products The materials with highest demand are:
• Slabs, sheets, films
• Plastic or Rubber footwear and its parts
• Plastic items for packaging
• Tubes and fittings for pipes
• Plastic items for kitchens and tables
• Synthetic or manmade bags and sacks to package material
By Colombian law, all products used in food processing; health, cosmetics, home cleaning, industrial products, and lubricating markets must be protected from external elements by a plastic material. The bottling and packaging industries are also a growing sector in Colombia.
These industries use approximately 72 percent of the total imported and locally manufactured plastics materials and resins. Extrusion has the largest demand, accounting for 63 percent of the market. Injection molding accounts for 16 percent, blowing molding accounts for eleven percent, while calendaring, thermoforming, and molding account for ten percent.
The Colombian government is promoting the development of a coherent industry policy that will be in sync with commercial practices. Due to the fact that commodities comprise 65 percent of Colombian exports, the government wants to change this dynamic by increasing industrial productivity and promoting more aggregate value to the current exports. To achieve this objective, it is necessary to attract more foreign and local investment in order to update the level of technology employed and to acquire better management practices.