[Excerpt] Strategically located in the American continent in the northeastern corner of South America, Colombia has extensive coastlines on the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and is bordered by Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Panama. With ports on the Atlantic and Pacific to serve Europe, North America and the Pacific Basin countries and good overland routes, Colombia is considered the gateway to South America. It has made further use of its unique geographical position by focusing on foreign trade. Liberalization of the markets in the early 1990s meant a reduction of customs duties for imported goods and a modernizing of the infrastructure of the country. Colombian products enjoy preferential or zero tariffs with other members of the Andean Community, the European Union, Chile, the Caribbean Community countries, the US, and Venezuela and Mexico pursuant to the G3 Agreement. There are currently seven free trade zones and four Special Economic Export Zones, all of which offer exemptions from duties for imported goods and materials, subject to certain conditions. The influence in Andean Community legislation is seen not only in trade tariffs, but also in the intellectual property area and increasingly in the regulation of the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries, among others.
Colombia is the third largest country in Latin America in population terms after Brazil and Mexico, with the fifth largest economy. It has a largely urban population with over seventy per cent living in the cities, the largest being the capital city Bogotá D.C. followed by Medellín, Cali and Barranquilla. Colombia boasts a highly skilled and competitive work force, with well qualified and experienced managers.