Colombian imports totaled US$51.2 billion in 2018, down -20% since 2014 but up 11.2% from 2017 to 2018.
From a continental perspective, over a third (34.9%) of Colombia’s total imports by value in 2018 were purchased from North American trade partners. Asian countries supplied almost another third (32.1%) of import purchased by Colombia while 16.6% worth of goods originated from Europe. At 14.1%, a smaller percentage came from exporters in Latin America (excluding Mexico) plus the Caribbean. Much tinier percentages were furnished by Africa (0.3%) and Oceania (0.1%) led by Australia.
Given Colombia’s population of 48.2 million people, its total $51.2 billion in 2018 imports translates to roughly $1,100 in yearly product demand from every person in South America’s second-most populated country.
Colombia’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Colombia’s import purchases during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Colombia.
- Machinery including computers: US$5.8 billion (11.3% of total imports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $5.8 billion (11.3%)
- Vehicles: $4.3 billion (8.5%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $3.5 billion (6.9%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $2.5 billion (4.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $2.4 billion (4.7%)
- Organic chemicals: $2.3 billion (4.5%)
- Iron, steel: $1.8 billion (3.5%)
- Cereals: $1.7 billion (3.3%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.5 billion (3%)
Colombia’s top 10 imports accounted for over three-fifths (61.8%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Imported iron and steel had the fastest-growing increase in value among Colombia’s top 10 import categories, up 34.1% from 2017 to 2018.
The second-place category for improving import purchases was vehicles, up 19.5%. Colombian imports of plastics and items made from plastic delivered the third-fastest gain up 17.7% year over year.
The mineral fuels including oil category was the laggard among the top 10 Colombian imports, dipping -5%.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level. Information presented under other virtual folder tabs is at the more granular 4-digit level.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Colombia’s most valuable imported products are refined petroleum oils (6.3% of total) trailed by mobile phones (4.7%), cars (4.5%), medicines for therapeutic or prophylactic purposes (2.8%), aircraft or spacecraft (2.1%), computers including optical readers (also 2.1%) then corn (2%).
In 2018, Colombian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$1.1 billion (up 7.5% from 2017)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $297.7 million (up 10.4%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $267.5 million (up 13.8%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $257.7 million (up 18.8%)
- Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): $250.7 million (up 32.8%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $220.6 million (up 6.9%)
- Printing machinery: $220.3 million (down -4.1%)
- Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $203.7 million (up 1.8%)
- Piston engine parts: $183.7 million (down -1.1%)
- Machinery parts: $173.9 million (up 15%)
Among these import subcategories, Colombian purchases of heavy machinery including bulldozers, excavators and road rollers (up 32.8%), taps, valves and similar appliances (up 18.8%) then machinery parts (up 15%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of machinery-related imports among Colombian businesses and consumers.
In 2018, Colombian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical products including consumer electronics.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$2.4 billion (up 15.6% from 2017)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $741.3 million (up 17.5%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $280 million (up 14.7%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $201.3 million (up 18.7%)
- Electric generating sets, converters: $176.8 million (up 69.1%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $160.1 million (up 2.8%)
- TV/radio/radar device parts: $123.1 million (up 30.2%)
- TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras: $122.9 million (up 33.7%)
- Electric motors, generators: $122.8 million (up 13.9%)
- Microphones/headphones/amps: $117.7 million (up 16.1%)
Among these import subcategories, Colombian purchases of electric generating sets or converters (up 69.1%), TV receivers, transmitters and digital cameras (up 33.7%) then TV, radio or radar device parts (up 30.2%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of electronics-related imports among Colombian businesses and consumers.
In 2018, Colombian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles and related products.
- Cars: US$2.3 billion (up 15.9% from 2017)
- Trucks: $703.6 million (up 29.5%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $696.8 million (up 9.2%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $148.8 million (up 19.3%)
- Chassis fitted with engine: $86 million (up 58.8%)
- Tractors: $84 million (up 40.4%)
- Motorcycles: $69.1 million (up 38.7%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $64.1 million (up 227.1%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $53 million (up 41%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $50.8 million (up 21.9%)
Among these import subcategories, Colombian purchases of public-transport vehicles (up 227.1%), chassis fitted with engine (up 58.8%) and special purpose vehicles (up 41%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of vehicles-related imports among Colombian businesses and consumers.
In 2018, Colombian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Processed petroleum oils: US$3.2 billion (down -10.6% from 2017)
- Petroleum gases: $168.3 million (up 263.6%)
- Crude oil: $79.5 million (up 418563.2%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $24.3 million (up 4.2%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $9.2 million (down -31%)
- Electrical energy: $4.5 million (up 132.6%)
- Peat: $2.3 million (down -4.4%)
- Asphalt/petroleum bitumen mixes: $1.4 million (up 64.4%)
- Natural bitumen, asphalt, shale: $862,000 (down -88.3%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $788,000 (up 2.7%)
Among these import subcategories, Colombian purchases of crude oil (up 418,563%), petroleum gases (up 263.6%) and electrical energy (up 132.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of mineral fuels-related imports among Colombian businesses and consumers.
See also Colombia’s Top Trading Partners and Colombia’s Top 10 Exports
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 12, 2019
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 12, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 12, 2019