Colombian Apparel Industry Demands Tariff Increases on Asian Imports

Colombian apparel companies ask the government to increase duties and tariffs on a recent surge of low-cost Asian imports that threaten job security for an industry that is down 120,000 workers since 2020.

The Colombian government in Bogota responded to industry demands two weeks ago, introducing a bill that would levy stiff tariffs on any clothing imports. The bill proposes a whopping 40 percent duty on clothing priced under $10 and a 15 percent plus $1.50 per kilogram tax for any clothing priced over $10.

The Colombian Apparel and Related Products Chamber (CCCyA) has criticized the bill, asking for the 40 percent tariff to be extended to apparel $15 and under. The CCCyA also asked the government to amend the tax on apparel over $15, recommending that it be lowered to a 10 percent duty with a $3 per kilo tax.

This massive industry shift is likely in response to Colombia’s spiraling clothing market, down 22 percent in 2020. Retail sales across the industry fell 21 percent and the deficit between Asian imports and exports for 2019 was $2.4 billion. 

The large influx of cheap Asian apparel imports has forced larger clothing manufacturers to become net importers of foreign apparel and reduce their local manufacturing force. Production costs increased steeply during pandemic lockdowns, making the cheap Asian imports hard to pass up.

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