Colombia’s Top 10 Exports

Colombian flag


Located in South America’s northwest area and sharing part of its northern border with Panama, the Republic of Colombia shipped US$37.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount represents a -35.8% setback compared to 2013 but a 21.9% increase from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Colombia’s exported goods plus services represent 14.2% of total Colombian economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental lens, $13 billion in products or 34.5% of overall Colombian exports by value were delivered to North American countries. Almost one third (31.1%) were sold to importers in Latin America (excluding Mexico) and the Caribbean importers. Colombia shipped another 15.9% worth of goods to Europe with 15.7% delivered to customers in Asia. Just 0.4% arrived in Africa.

Given Colombia’s population of 47.7 million people, its total $37.8 billion in 2017 exports translates to about $800 for every resident in the South American sovereign state.

Colombia’s unemployment rate was 11.8% as of January 2018, according to Trading Economics.

Colombia’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Colombian global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Colombia.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$20.4 billion (54% of total exports)
  2. Coffee, tea, spices: $2.6 billion (6.9%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $2 billion (5.3%)
  4. Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $1.4 billion (3.8%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: $1.4 billion (3.6%)
  6. Fruits, nuts: $1.1 billion (2.9%)
  7. Sugar, sugar confectionery: $569.1 million (1.5%)
  8. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $542.6 million (1.4%)
  9. Vehicles: $539.3 million (1.4%)
  10. Machinery including computers: $469.6 million (1.2%)

Colombia’s top 10 exports accounted for over four-fifths (82.1%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 47.2% in value from 2016 to 2017.

In second place for Colombia’s improving export sales was mineral fuels including oil via a 38.9% uptick, propelled by accelerating revenues for crude oil and coal.

Gems and precious metals posted the third-fastest gain in value up 15.4% mainly due to higher international sales of Colombian gold, precious metals scrap and jewelry.

Vehicles was the only declining top category thanks to a modest -2.5% drop.


The following types of Colombian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports is the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$16.7 billion (Up by 53.7% since 2016)
  2. Coffee, tea, spices: $2.5 billion (Up by 4.4%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $1.9 billion (Up by 18.8%)
  4. Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $1.4 billion (Up by 6.6%)
  5. Fruits, nuts: $859.4 million (Up by 3.9%)
  6. Sugar, sugar confectionery: $401.8 million (Up by 18.2%)
  7. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $97.1 million (Down by -11%)
  8. Cocoa: $60.1 million (Down by -5.9%)
  9. Ores, slag, ash: $47.7 million (Up by 85.1%)
  10. Live animals: $33.5 million (Down by -20.3%)

Colombia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of mineral fuels-related exports particularly crude oil and coal. In turn, these cashflows indicate Colombia’s strong competitive advantages under the oil product category.


Overall Colombia incurred a -$8.3 billion trade for 2017 deficit down by -40.3% from the -$13.9 billion in red ink during 2016.

Below are exports from Colombia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Colombia’s goods trail Colombian importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Machinery including computers: -US$5 billion (Up by 4.1% since 2016)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$4.5 billion (Up by 9.3%)
  3. Vehicles: -$3.1 billion (Down by -4%)
  4. Organic chemicals: -$1.9 billion (Up by 6%)
  5. Pharmaceuticals: -$1.8 billion (Up by 9.4%)
  6. Cereals: -$1.5 billion (Down by -2.3%)
  7. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$1.3 billion (Down by -1%)
  8. Aircraft, spacecraft: -$951.6 million (Up by 7.7%)
  9. Iron, steel: -$903.1 million (Up by 4.7%)
  10. Rubber, rubber articles: -$867.2 million (Up by 9.4%)

Colombia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for machinery particularly computers.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Colombia’s competitive disadvantages in the international machinery market, but also represent key opportunities for Colombia to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.


Colombian Export Companies

Six Colombian corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Colombian companies that Forbes included:

  • Ecopetrol (fuel, petrochemicals)
  • Grupo Argos (construction materials)

Wikipedia also lists exporters from Colombia. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Alpina Productos Alimenticios (dairy products)
  • Auteco (vehicles)
  • Manuelita (sugar, fruits, vegetables)
  • Organizacion Corona (ceramics)
  • Ospina Coffee Company (coffee)

Colombia’s capital city is Bogotá.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also Colombia’s Top Trading Partners, Colombia’s Top 10 Imports and Top South American Export Countries

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 5, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 5, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 5, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 5, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Colombia. Accessed on March 5, 2018

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 5, 2018