ECONOMY

Colón Free Zone business contracts 15 percent

Internal and external factors are being blamed for the decrease.

So far, the government has not taken any action to boost business. 

Temas:

Business at the Colón Free Zone has dropped this year due to tax measures adopted by Colombia and Ecuador the devaluation of the currencies of Venezuela and Brazil.

However, the Association of Users (AU) claims that the slowdown is due to changes in supply chains in which retailers are purchasing items directly from suppliers, especially in China.

Business at the free zone, the second largest in the world, has dropped 15 percent so far this year as compared to 2014, which in turn dropped 12 percent from 2013.

"There was a time when people were lined up here, and now it's just me," said a security guard who has worked at the zone for 29 years.

The activity in the area is as gray as the sky threatening rain. Empty shops are filled with sales people looking at their cell phones or talking among themselves. There are vacant stores with "for rent" signs on them.

Seeking to reverse the situation, several meetings have been held with business owners asking the government to reduce their tax burden, something that has been rejected so far by President Juan Carlos Varela.

According to figures from the Comptroller, the value of re-exports in 2014, was just under $13 billion, 12 percent less than in 2013.

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