The opening ceremony of Expodefensa 2017 underscored three things: 1) the significance of Colombia in regional affairs; 2) the uniqueness of Expodefensa in an era of expos trying to be bigger instead of better; and, 3) Colombia is certainly an export-based defence market.
Men and women officers of the armed forces from across Latin America were present, some from embassies here in the Capitol city, and others travelled from home as well to show their commitment to inter-American cooperation through the institutions of extremely professional military estates. In this, Latin pride and sense of purpose and duty are clear...keep Latin America safe, stable and increasingly prosperous so it remains a combined world power.
Unlike any other expo, delegates, exhibitors and visitors are all welcomed as VIPs and treated like true partners in the mission of Expodefensa.
One is hard-pressed to recall being welcomed to such a large event with a free show catalogue and refreshments.
Finally, with long time defences industrial partners participating here, the several decades of investment and technology transfers are paying dividends. Colombia's own defence-industrial complex has reached a point where it supplies the region and capable of exporting ex-regionally. In his address, Colombia's Defence Minister called-out Colombia's shipbuilding industry that supplied vessels to its neighbours. Colombian companies - the likes of Cotecmar, Sieza, Indumil, Paradigm and Codaltec - have developed their own export-quality products and solutions capable of competing for business in the region against larger companies in the whole of Europe, non-Latin North America and Asia.
However, these other regions have much to offer as well - and technology transfers and local production (along with human and natural resources) are the growth engines for Colombia's "defence economy."
Hence, "outsiders" such as Inmarsat, Naval Group and St Kinetics have substantial footprints here. Conversely, as it leaves the financial and technical security of the European Union, the UK defence and security trade organisation stated that the UK is here to listen, learn, and lay a foundation for mutually beneficial partnerships, with expertise, knowledge and products flowing BOTH ways...this is intriguing and MONS and her sister publications will keep a critical eye on this development.