Found in South America’s northwestern region, the Republic of Colombia shipped US$41.8 billion worth of products around the globe in 2018. That dollar figure represents roughly 0.2% of overall global exports estimated at $17.546 trillion one year earlier.
From a continental perspective, $13.5 billion in products or 32.4% of overall Colombian exports by value were sent to North American countries. Close behind at 32.1% were buyers located in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. In third place was Europe, well ahead of customers in Africa (0.6%) and Oceania (0.2%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Colombia’s Top 15 Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Colombia’s top trading partners in terms of export sales. That is, countries that imported the most Colombian shipments by dollar value during 2018. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Colombian exports.
- United States: US$11.1 billion (26.5% of total Colombian exports)
- China: $3.7 billion (9%)
- Panama: $3.6 billion (8.6%)
- Ecuador: $1.9 billion (4.4%)
- Turkey: $1.7 billion (4%)
- Mexico: $1.6 billion (3.9%)
- Brazil: $1.6 billion (3.7%)
- Chile: $1.19 billion (2.8%)
- Spain: $1.19 billion (2.8%)
- Peru: $1.17 billion (2.8%)
- Netherlands: $1 billion (2.5%)
- Canada: $797.6 million (1.9%)
- Saint Lucia: $797.2 million (1.9%)
- South Korea: $627.4 million (1.5%)
- India: $548.1 million (1.3%)
Over three-quarters (77.9%) of Colombian exports in 2018 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
The Netherlands was the only top importer that decreased its purchases of goods exported from Colombia from 2017 to 2018, down in value by -32.9%. Among the other 14 countries, gains ranged from a minimum of 1% for the United States up to 96% for India.
Colombia incurred an overall -$9.5 billion trade deficit during 2018, up 13.9% from the -$8.3 billion in red ink one year earlier.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Colombia incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- China: -US$6.8 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2018)
- Mexico: -$2.3 billion
- United States: -$2 billion
- Germany: -$1.7 billion
- Brazil: -$1.3 billion
- France: -$968.7 million
- Japan: -$814.5 million
- India: -$635.4 million
- Vietnam: -$468 million
- Argentina: -$436.5 million
Among Colombia’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Colombian deficits with United States (up 78.1%), Argentina (up 52.8%) and Brazil (up 37.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Colombia’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Colombia to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
Colombia incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- Panama: US$3.5 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2018)
- Turkey: $1.4 billion
- Ecuador: $1 billion
- Saint Lucia: $797.1 million
- Netherlands: $788.7 million
- Chile: $464.2 million
- Peru: $414.3 million
- Bahamas: $387.5 million
- Israel: $326.4 million
- Guatemala: $309.8 million
Among Colombia’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Colombian surpluses with Israel (up 87.4%), Ecuador (up 38.7%) and Chile (up 35.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Colombia’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Colombia to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Colombian Trading Partners
Six Colombian corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. The following companies are selected examples of international trade companies headquartered in Colombia:
- 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)
See also Colombia’s Top 10 Exports, Colombia’s Top 10 Imports and Top South American Export Countries
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 12, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 12, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 12, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Colombia. Accessed on March 12, 2019
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 12, 2019