Colombia is an attractive destination in Latin America for both foreign direct investment (FDI) and for international trade. Throughout the last several decades, the United States and the European Union have been Colombia’s traditional partners on both of these fronts. In recent years, however, China has displaced Europe within the trade sphere, but has not yet managed to overtake Europe in terms of FDI. During 2017, Colombia received approximately US$14.5 billion worth of FDI, which represents an increase from US$13.8 billion in 2016. Simultaneously, these amounts increased the aggregate amount of FDI stock in Colombia from US$164.5 billion in 2016 to US$180.2 billion in 2017.

Foreign Direct Investment and International Trade in Colombia

Currently, Colombia’s main imports are refined petroleum, automobiles, broadcasting equipment, medicaments, aircraft, and manufactured consumer goods, such as computers. Meanwhile, the country’s main exports are petroleum (both crude and refined), coal, coffee, gold, emeralds, flowers, bananas, and pesticides. During 2015, Colombia’s trade balance closed with a deficit of US$14 billion, given that the country exported a grand total of US$37.5 billion and imported US$ 51.7 billion worth of goods and products. In the particular case of the year 2015, Colombia exported about US$10.4 billion in goods to the United States and almost $ 2.3 billion towards China. Likewise, that same year Colombia imported some US$15.4 billion in products from the United States and US$9.8 billion from China.

The following year, in 2016, Colombia imported US$42.9 billion and exported US$30.2 billion, which generated a trade deficit of US$12.6. That year, Colombia’s main export, representing 26% or US$7.9 billion, consisted of crude oil. On the other hand, the country’s main import in 2016, representing 8.2% or US$3.5 billion of all international purchases, was refined petroleum. Meanwhile, Colombia’s main trading partners in recent years have been the United States, China, Mexico, Panama, and the European Union.

By way of contrast, in the year 2000, the United States bought 49% of Colombia’s exports, while China was the destination of less than 0.25% of all goods that the South American nation sold internationally. Similarly, in the year 2000, China was the origin of only 2.9% of all goods imported into Colombia. Fifteen years later, Colombia’s trade has changed significantly, not to mention its overall growth from approximately US$13.9 billion in global exports in 2000 to US$30.2 billion in 2016.

In 2015, Colombia’s main export to China was crude oil with a grand total valued at US$1.8 billion, equivalent to 79% of Colombian exports to China during that year. However, this represents a decrease compared to 2014, when crude oil totaled 90% of the value or US$5.2 billion of Colombian exports to China. Likewise, in 2013, crude oil represented 84% of Colombian export revenue purchased by China, with a total of US$4.3 billion. One of the key points of this data set is that, currently, one of the main interests of China in Colombia is the purchase of energy resources and fossil fuels, particularly crude oil. Indeed, since 2009, the main Colombian export to China has been crude oil.

(Read more about Policy and Economics in Northern Europe)

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