Market overview

  • As of 18 August, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has temporarily closed the physical premises of the New Zealand Embassies in Brazil and Colombia (also accredited to Ecuador). The Ministry will be reviewing the temporary closure of these Embassies at regular intervals. The diplomatic staff will continue to perform their roles remotely.

  • Colombia closed its borders and banned international flights entering the country from 22 March, with such restriction lasting until 31 August. Early in July, national flights among low affected cities resumed. As of the 7 July, the Government extended the country’s quarantine through to 1 August. All individuals in Colombia are required to shelter in place and remain inside. Most public locations are closed.

  • Recently, the National Government announced the 1 September as the possible date for international flights reopening, but some experts think that the complete normalisation of flights will not be given until the month of November. Discussions will be held in mid-August on reopening air operations at Bogota's El Dorado Airport.

  • The national airline Avianca filed for bankruptcy protection according to the United States laws.

  • The Government is coordinating the activation of the ground transport service. Inter-municipal transport continues without operations due to the lack of agreements between municipalities.

  • While quarantine continues, municipalities with no coronavirus infections or with low infection rates will be allowed to open restaurants, theatres and gyms under strict protocols - including the use of face masks and social distancing - at the request of mayors.

  • According to some polls, one-third of Colombian restaurants have closed permanently due to the lockdown.

  • The government has authorised the continuity of the construction and manufacturing sectors following some strict sanitary protocols.

  • The country has celebrated two "VAT-free days", approved by the Colombian Government in late 2019. VAT in Colombia is 19%. The policy, intended to stimulate commerce, caused long queues and some criticism due to certain lack of mask using and social distancing. One more "VAT-free day" will take place in September.

For more information on doing business in Colombia, visit myNZTE - our free online portal for curated, in-depth information and guidance.

Supply chain, freight & logistics

  • At the end of March, the National Government issued Decree 482 creating the Logistics and Transportation Centre. The main objective is to rationalise the use of resources involved in the transport of goods.

  • During the first quarter of 2020, the port areas mobilised 44.8 million tons, registering a negative variation of 3.8%, compared to the same period in 2019, which means 1.7 million tons less. This decrease was due to lower volumes of cargo mobilised in Buenaventura (corn, sugar and chemicals) and Cartagena (household goods and hydrocarbons).

  • All national borders (land, sea and rivers) are closed for movement of people until 31 August.

  • International flights will remain suspended until the end of August and national flights can only connect low affected cities.

  • Public transport is operating at a low capacity and Intermunicipal Transport of Passengers will be reactivated soon, but only between non-COVID or low affected municipalities. Private ports may undertake cargo operations related to the supply of essential goods within the area.

Government support

The local economy is expected to contract between -3% to - 5.5% this year. The government is not enforcing the fiscal deficit limits, previously set for 2020 and 2021, due to the need to reactivate the economy.

Similarly, it has invested nearly USD 3.7 billion to fight the pandemic effects, including bonds, VAT rebates, tax deferrals and financing support for SMEs. There is also a new credit line for the tourism and aviation sectors, that represent as much as 6% of GDP.

In terms of multilateral credit lines, Colombia will receive US$700 million from the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has extended a US$10.8 billion flexible credit line to bolster the Central Bank’s reserves while coping with the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Other economic relief measures adopted, include:

  • A Solidarity package for some three million Colombians that do not have any formal employment and obtain their livelihood through informal economic activities i.e. street vendors, will receive US$ 40 per month.

  • An additional subsidised monthly payment of US$82 for current beneficiaries of social programmes (2.6 million families), and a subsidy of US$60 for two groups: 1.5 million low income elderly that belong to the "Colombia Mayor Programme" and 204,000 youngsters that are part of "Youngsters in Action Programme"

  • Lower income households will be able to defer the payments (up to 36 months) of basic utilities (power, water, gas).

  • School children that benefit from school meals would have their meals provided at home.

  • The government will reimburse VAT (19%) to lower income families

  • SMEs will be given special credit lines to guarantee payroll payments and maintain operations.

  • Regions will be able to lower local ICA (Industry tax) for companies

  • Lower tariffs on 24 medical equipment items entering the country

  • Bancoldex (State Bank for the Promotion of External Trade) will allocate a total of US$61 million. for tourism and aviation companies.

Sector insights

Colombia's main sectors disrupted include: Aviation and tourism, restaurants and bars, entertainment (cinemas and theatres) and general retail. To counteract the negative impact, the Government has announced a new credit line providing liquidity support to all tourism-related companies, delayed tax collection for the tourism and air transportation sectors, and faster direct contracting for services associated with the emergency response.

As an oil producing and exporting nation, Colombia has been impacted heavily by the 30% drop in demand and shock as oil prices head into negative territory. Exploration and investment plans are being delayed or cancelled.

Another important sector for Colombia is the mining sector. Whilst some mining operations have been able to operate some "essential services" during the quarantine period; there is a 75% drop in activity against BAU.

Additional resources

Below you can find information and contact details for other New Zealand government and international agencies regarding their response to COVID-19.

New Zealand Government agencies
COVID-19 helpline for businesses
New Zealand Customs
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)
New Zealand Export Credit (NZEC)
MFAT Export Helpline
MFAT Safetravel
Callaghan Innovation
Ministry of Health
WorkSafe New Zealand

Global agencies

World Health Organization (WHO)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Contact NZTE

We're available to talk to you about any issues your export business is facing due to COVID-19.

For existing NZTE customers, please contact your New Zealand-based Customer Manager.

If you're unsure who to contact or haven't worked with us before, you can call NZTE on 0800 555 888 or email below and one of our Customer Advisors will help you.