Colombia has made great advancements in the internationalization of its economy, as evidenced with the implementation of several trade agreements, the promotion of value-added exports, the presence and recognition of the country at an international level and the enhancement of foreign investment. Foreign trade represents 15% of the total Colombian GDP over the last five years. 

In 2017, data showed exports grew 19%, going from US$ 31,756.8 million FOB to US$ 37,800.1 million. Such behavior was characterized by the growth of the country's external sales in all product groups, especially fuels and extractive industries products. Additionally, agricultural products, and food and beverage presented positive annual variations in eight months of the year.

Imports totaled US$ 46,075.7 million, with a variation of 2.6% compared to those in the year 2016. Such a result is explained by the 5% growth in the manufacturing subsector with external purchases of US$ 32,482.9 million CIF. Additionally, imports of fuels and products from the extractive industries presented an increase of 1.9% for US$ 4,122.7 million CIF, with fuels, mineral lubricants and related products weighing the most.

In 2017 there was a deficit in the Colombian trade balance of US$ 6,176.5 million, which shows a decrease of 44% compared to the 2016 figures.

As shown in the data of recent exports and imports in the country, these two variables showed a significant recovery compared to 2016, leveraged mainly by the US and Chinese market. Additionally, Colombia’s commerce is undergoing a change from being a mining-energy focused commerce to the promotion of agro-industrial products, to which government resources and investment is being directed.

Currently, Colombia has 23 commercial treaties: 

  1. Twelve free trade agreements and economic integration arrangements 
  2. Four partial scope agreements
  3. Three economic complementation agreements
  4. A customs union
  5. An integration area agreement 
  6. A free trade agreement and a commercial agreement 

In addition, it has two signed agreements (Israel and Panama) and it is currently negotiating two, one with Japan (an economic association agreement) and the other one with Turkey (a commercial agreement). The last agreements that came into force were those with South Korea and Costa Rica in 2016.

The strategies implemented by the country in order to achieve an increase in international trade are focused on: the development of free trade zones; the diversification of the export basket by increasing export incentives; the decrease in the prevalence of non-tariff barriers, which help reduce the cost of importing merchandise; and the decrease in the amount of procedures and applicable customs requirements by undertaking the second implementation phase of the Single Window for Foreign Trade (VUCE). 

For 2018, an increase of 3% is projected for foreign sales dynamism to show an increase of 3%, which represents US$ 39,000 million, while it is expected that imports will increase by 2%, to reach US$ 47,000 million as a result of the domestic demand recovery.

Featured Information

  • Exports: US$ 37,800.1 million FOB (Free on Board)
  • Imports: US$ 46,075.7 million CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight)
  • Commercial deficit: US$ 6,176.5 million
  • Current Trade Agreements in force: 23
  • Foreign Direct Investment (IED 2017): US$ 10,100 with an increase of 14.8%.
  • The Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and South Korea will allow reaching a market of 50 million people with an annual per capital income of US$ 25,000.
  • Colombia has 108 free trade zones, accounting for 25% of the 400 there are in Latin America, ranking first place among those, with the highest number of free trade zones. It generates more than 250,000 jobs and operates more than 1,200 companies.
  • In the last 10 years, Colombia has received investments in free trade zones exceeding COP$ 50 billion and expects to reach another COP$ 20 billion within the next three years. 

Source: The National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE), National Directorate of Taxes and Customs (DIAN), World Bank, National Business Association of Colombia (ANDI), National Association of Foreign Trade (ANALDEX) y Organization of American States (OAS) (Foreign Trade Information System)