Launch of the Global Quality and Standards Programme for the chemical industry in Colombia

Launch of the Global Quality and Standards Programme for the chemical industry in Colombia

BOGOTA, 3 June 2019 - With the objective of strengthening quality and raising compliance with international standards to increase its exportable supply, 470 companies in the chemical industry, in addition to 126 laboratories and entities such as the Colombian Institute of Technical Standards and Certification (ICONTEC), the National Metrology Institute (INM) and the National Accreditation Body of Colombia (ONAC), will be part of the Global Quality and Standards Programme, whose agreement was formalized on 22 May 2019 in Bogota.

The project, which will be implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) with a EUR1.9 million contribution from the Secretariat of State for Economic Affairs of Switzerland (SECO) and financial resources in the amount of EUR460,000 provided by the Colombian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism through Colombia Productiva, will support about 11% of the total number of chemical companies in the country (5,214 between micro and SMEs) that contributed 15.5% to the added value of the country’s overall 2018 manufacturing industry. Overall, chemical activities generated 205,620 jobs, representing 7.6% of the personnel employed by the national manufacturing sector.

The chemical industry is important because of its high value added per employee ($218 million in 2017) and the impact it has on other industries. It is a sector that is an important supplier to other industries such as auto parts, textiles, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and agro-industry, which will also indirectly improve their quality levels. The initiative will include interventions to strengthen conformity assessment laboratories and institutions so that their services respond to the needs of companies.

“Colombia has special production capacities in the chemical industry, which provides more sophisticated goods than the average of our export basket and which also represents 22.5% of our non-mining energy exports”, said Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism José Manuel Restrepo. “Meeting the needs of the chemical sector in the National Quality Subsystem will allow us to capitalize on advantages to access to new market opportunities for our national producers.”

“More than 400 companies and 100 laboratories of the chemical value chain will benefit in terms of skills and training”, said President of Colombia Productiva Camilo Fernández de Soto. “Another 70 companies and 26 laboratories will have permanent assistance in the implementation of quality standards to access new markets with products such as basic chemical substances, plastics and cosmetics.”

“The programme will aim to close technical gaps in the quality infrastructure and strategic sectors of our partner countries”, added UNIDO Representative for Colombia and the Andean region Johannes Dobinger. “In the case of Colombia, we will especially support the chemical industry so that it can export more, because in addition to its outstanding figures in employment, production and value added, it presents important challenges for the OECD’s agenda and the country’s development policies”.

“The Global Quality and Standards Programme will address an important need that this industry”, said Christian Brändli, Head of the SECO Economic Cooperation and Development Programme of the Swiss Embassy in Colombia. “It has to take advantage of existing trade agreements, support exporting SMEs, increase competitiveness through work within companies and diversify its export basket through higher value-added products.”

Another key focus will be on improving consumption habits in citizens, which will be more productive if complemented with strategies to support a cleaner, more sustainable and with more quality production, in high-impact industries such as the chemical. As part of the Programme's launch strategy, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism, together with Colombia Productiva and UNIDO, will hold a series of regional workshops in June in the cities of Bogota (11 June 2019), Medellin (12 June 2019), Cali (13 June 2019), and Barranquilla (14 June 2019).

For more information, please contact:

Juan Pablo Diaz Castillo  

Industrial Development Officer, PTC/TII/SQI