That dollar amount reflects a 7.2% expansion from the $37.8 billion in Colombian exports for 2017.
Year over year, revenues collected for Colombia’s exports in 2021 accelerated by 30.4% from $31 billion during 2020.
Colombia’s top 5 exported products based on international sales during 2021 are crude oil, coal, coffee, gold and refined petroleum oils. Combined, those 5 main Colombian exports generated almost three-fifths (57.2%) of the country’s overall export revenues.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2021, the Colombian peso depreciated by -26.8% against the US dollar since 2017 and declined by -1.3% from 2020 to 2021. Colombia’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
Colombia’s Most Valuable Trade Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 72.8% of products exported from Colombia were bought by importers in: the United States of America (28.5% of Colombia’s global total), mainland China (9%), Panama (6.1%), Brazil (5.1%), Ecuador (4.3%), India (3.8%), Turkey (3.1%), Mexico (3%), Chile (2.69%), Peru (2.67%), Netherlands (2.4%) and Italy (2.2%).
From a continental perspective, 33.9% of Colombia’s exports by value were delivered to North American countries while 28.8% were sold to importers in Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Colombia shipped another 22.4% worth of goods to Asia, with 13.3% going to importers in Europe.
Tinier percentages were supplies to Africa (1%) and Oceania (0.6%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Given Colombia’s population of 51 million people, its total $40.5 billion in 2021 exports translates to almost $800 for every resident in the South American sovereign state. That dollar metric exceeds the average $600 per person one year earlier during 2020.
Colombia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Colombian global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Colombia.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$18.3 billion (45.1% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $3.3 billion (8.3%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $3.2 billion (7.9%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $2 billion (4.9%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $1.8 billion (4.3%)
- Fruits, nuts: $1.4 billion (3.5%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $772.2 million (1.9%)
- Iron, steel: $597.8 million (1.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $584.2 million (1.4%)
- Other chemical goods: $531.3 million (1.3%)
Colombia’s top 10 exports accounted for about four-fifths (80.2%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Plastics as materials and articles made from plastic was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 49.9% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was mineral fuels including oil via a 41.4% gain led by Colombian shipments of crude oil and refined petroleum oils.
Colombia’s shipments of animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 28.9%.
The most modest increase among Colombia’s top 10 export categories was for fruits and nuts, thanks to a 9.7% improvement year over year.
At the more detailed four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Colombia’s most valuable exported goods are crude oil (25.4% of its global total), coal plus solid fuels made from coal (10.8%), coffee (7.9%), gold (7.7%), refined petroleum oils (5.3%), fresh or dried flowers (4.3%), coke and semi-coke (3.1%), bananas including plantains (2.5%), propylene and olefin polymers (1.4%), vinyl chloride polymers (1.3%) and iron ferroalloys (also 1.3%).
Products Generating Colombia’s Largest Trade Surpluses
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 represent 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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$14.5 billion (Up by 35.3% since 2020)
- Gems, precious metals: $3.3 billion (Up by 11%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $3 billion (Up by 23.3%)
- Live trees, plants, cut flowers: $1.7 billion (Up by 21.7%)
- Fruits, nuts: $1.2 billion (Up by 10.4%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: $316.7 million (Down by -4.1%)
- Live animals: $139.5 million (Up by 6.2%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $139.3 million (Up by 98%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $65.3 million (Up by 162.9%)
- Cocoa: $54.2 million (Up by 7.2%)
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.
Products Causing Colombia’s Worst Trade Deficits
Colombia incurred an overall -$20.6 billion trade deficit during 2021, up by 65.7% from the -$12.4 billion in red ink one year earlier in 2020.
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.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -US$5.8 billion (Up by 30.3% since 2020)
- Machinery including computers: -$5.7 billion (Up by 19.8%)
- Vehicles: -$4.5 billion (Up by 44.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$3.5 billion (Up by 64.3%)
- Organic chemicals: -$2.9 billion (Up by 66.1%)
- Cereals: -$2.6 billion (Up by 31%)
- Iron, steel: -$2.1 billion (Up by 199.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$1.6 billion (Up by 13.9%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$1.3 billion (Up by 108.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.2 billion (Up by 64.4%)
Colombia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for electrical machinery including consumer electronics.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Colombia’s competitive disadvantages under the electrical machinery and equipment product category, 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)
In macroeconomic terms, Colombia’s total exported goods represent 4.8% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($836.5 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 4.8% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 4.3% for 2020. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Colombia’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Colombia’s unemployment rate averaged 13.717% for 2021, down from an average 16.067% in 2020 according to statistics from the International Monetary Fund.
Colombia’s capital city is Bogotá.
See also Colombia’s Top Trading Partners, Colombia’s Top 10 Imports, Peru’s Top Trading Partners, China’s Top Trading Partners and Top US Trading Partners
Central Intelligence Agency, Trade CentreCountry Profiles. Accessed on June 27, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 27, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 27, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 27, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 27, 2022
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Exchange Rates data (National Currency per U.S. dollar, 2000-2021). Accessed on June 27, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 27, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Colombia. Accessed on June 27, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 27, 2022