For several decades now, the United States has been Latin America’s main trade partner and foreign investor. The region’s main imports in recent years have included chemicals, agricultural machinery, and pharmaceuticals, while its main exports include bananas, coffee, cotton, meat, wood, and rubber.
Many of the companies within these industries are located in Zonas Francas or Free Trade Zones. While these industrial sectors will continue to be valuable to neighboring countries, the largest US import to Latin America at present has been employment. This has materialized into opportunities that can offer the local workforce high wages and the ability to use the skills acquired through education.
A powerful attraction for doing business in this area is the high unemployment rate in all Central American countries, which, with the exception of Costa Rica and Panama, translates into a workforce at a good price that drastically reduces the cost of operating. a customer service center.
In that sense, US BPOs are attracted by the proximity of the Central American region, with countries such as Honduras or Guatemala, which, due to their availability of highly qualified employees who are willing to work for competitive salaries, have made companies in the United States see the potential to grow in the region.
From the client’s perspective, the existence of Free Trade Zones represents many tax attractiveness and other additional advantages for businesses. This is so since a Free Zone is an area where a company can operate tax-exempt, or with a considerable reduction in bureaucratic procedures.
In addition, the positioning of these areas is also related to global trends in outsourcing and the entire process known as globalization. A good example of this is Altia Smart City, one of the most important real estate projects of Grupo Karim’s, which is located precisely in a Free Zone state.
Altia Smart City is the first Free Trade Zone in Honduras for the service industry. This means that companies operating in service industries, such as Call Centers, Contact Centers, BPO and ITO companies, can benefit from Free Zone status within Altia.
The two most important benefits of the Free Trade Zone in Altia
Access to the right workforce
Although the tax benefits are strong, the key for any BPO is the possibility of finding qualified, available human resources, and above all nearby. Close in location, and close culturally. The Altia Free Trade Zone has become one of the best developments for BPO operations in Honduras and Central America.
One key is that being located in both San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, a good part of the more educated and younger population lives in neighborhoods around the area, while there is a much smaller concentration of these skilled workers in other areas of the country. .
Allows remote work from the business center, and promotes the use of digital technologies
In complex times due to the pandemic, a Free Zone regime allows workers in the service sector to sometimes have more than half of their direct employees working far from where the business is conducted, which benefits the costs of the company and supposes a comfortable situation for the worker.
This allows the implementation of the latest technologies and greater internet coverage, the decentralization of operations, the optimization of infrastructure, the reduction of operating costs, and of course, it is aligned with the new reality and global trends of work. .
From 2022 onwards, Free Trade Zone regimes will be the factor that will most benefit BPO companies and foreign investment in Central America.