Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Colombian peso depreciated by -21% against the US dollar since 2016 and declined by -12.6% from 2019 to 2020. Colombia’s weaker local currency makes its imports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively more expensive when converted starting from the Colombian peso.
Applying a continental lens, over a third (35.1%) of Colombia’s total imports by value were purchased from Asian trade partners. North American countries supplied almost roughly another third (32.9%) of import purchased by Colombia while 16% worth of goods originated from Europe. At 14.5%, a smaller percentage came from exporters in Latin America (excluding Mexico) plus the Caribbean. Tinier percentages were furnished by Africa (0.3%) and Oceania (0.1%) led by Australia.
Given Colombia’s population of 50.9 million people, its total $43.5 billion in 2020 imports translates to roughly $850 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 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Colombia.
- Machinery including computers: US$5.2 billion (11.9% of total imports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $5 billion (11.4%)
- Vehicles: $3.5 billion (8%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $2.5 billion (5.8%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $2.2 billion (5.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $2.1 billion (4.8%)
- Cereals: $2 billion (4.5%)
- Organic chemicals: $1.9 billion (4.3%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.5 billion (3.4%)
- Iron, steel: $1.2 billion (2.7%)
Colombia’s top 10 imports accounted for 61.8% of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Imported cereals represent the sole grower among Colombia’s top 10 import categories, up 9.5% from 2019 to 2020 and propelled by higher Colombian purchases of internationally sourced corn, wheat and rice.
The severest decline year over year was -49.1% for mineral fuels including oil.
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.
In 2020, Colombian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$1.2 billion (up 9.2% from 2019)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $240.3 million (down -15.2%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $223 million (down -24.1%)
- Move/grade/scrape/boring machinery: $210 million (up 145.2%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $201.1 million (down -21.8%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $186 million (down -12.9%)
- Printing machinery: $169.5 million (down -26.4%)
- Miscellaneous machinery: $149.1 million (down -4.5%)
- Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $147.4 million (down -26.4%)
- Refrigerators, freezers: $147.4 million (down -12.9%)
Among these import subcategories, Colombian purchases of moving, grading, scraping or boring machinery (up 145.2%) and computers including optical readers (up 9.2%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
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 2020, Colombian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical products including consumer electronics.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$2.2 billion (down -8.8% from 2019)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $582.1 million (down -11.9%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $244.7 million (down -10.3%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $151.4 million (down -6.2%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $139.9 million (down -9.2%)
- Microphones/headphones/amps: $134.7 million (up 4.3%)
- Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $126.4 million (up 19.6%)
- TV/radio/radar device parts: $123.4 million (up 8.2%)
- Electric generating sets, converters: $106.4 million (down -26.9%)
- Electric storage batteries: $105.7 million (down -12.4%)
Among these import subcategories, Colombian purchases of electric water heaters and hair dryers (up 19.6%), television, radio or radar device parts (up 8.2%) then microphones, headphones and amplifiers (up 4.3%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
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 2020, Colombian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles and related products.
- Cars: US$1.5 billion (down -33.9% from 2019)
- Trucks: $519.3 million (down -33.2%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $431.2 million (down -33.4%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $264.2 million (up 106.5%)
- Tractors: $208.8 million (up 4.6%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $133.3 million (down -4.3%)
- Chassis fitted with engine: $121.7 million (down -35.4%)
- Motorcycles: $74.3 million (down -7.5%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $52.5 million (up 14.9%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $43.5 million (down -42.4%)
Among these import subcategories, Colombian purchases of public-transport vehicles (up 106.5%), bicycles including other non-motorized cycles (up 14.9%) then tractors (up 4.6%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
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 2020, Colombian importers spent the most on the following subcategories of pharmaceuticals.
- Medication mixes in dosage: US$1.5 billion (up 0.04% from 2019)
- Blood fractions (including antisera): $775.5 million (down -6.5%)
- Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods: $86.3 million (down -9.9%)
- Medication mixes not in dosage: $49.1 million (up 30.2%)
- Packaged dressings: $41.5 million (up 12.1%)
- Dried organs, heparin: $19.2 million (down -18%)
Among these import subcategories, Colombian purchases of medication mixes not in dosage (up 30.2%), packaged dressings (up 12.1%) and medication mixes in dosage (up 0.04%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of pharmaceuticals-related imports among Colombian businesses and consumers.
See also Colombia’s Top Trading Partners and Colombia’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, Trade CentreCountry Profiles. Accessed on March 14, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 14, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 14, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 14, 2021