Country Facts
47.2 Million (2016)*
South America
Colombian Peso (COP)

*Source: The CIA World Factbook

Trade Indicators
U.S. is Colombia’s largest trading partner
4th largest economy in Latin America
$13 billion worth of U.S. exports (2016)
U.S.’ 22nd largest goods export market
3rd largest Latin American economy

Top Industry Export Opportunities

Information and Communication Technology

Internet penetration in the country has grown significantly in recent years, promoted by the government’s “Vive Digital” initiative which aims to create jobs, grow the economy, and reduce poverty by increasing access to broad band Internet service. Colombia has gone from 3.1 million Internet broadband connections in 2010 to over 10 million in 2016, and Internet penetration for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) increased from seven percent in 2010 to more than 60 percent in 2016. Opportunities for U.S. companies in the Colombian IT market will be driven by three main factors: increased connectivity and affordability of equipment, multi-sector economic growth, and government programs for institutional and regional modernization. Opportunities in the market include: computer hardware, software, and mobile phone hardware and accessories.

Medical Equipment

Imports make up about 86.5% of the medical device market in Colombia. Since the implementation of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) in 2012, 96% of U.S. medical equipment exports to Colombia receive duty free treatment. U.S. imports have the largest market share, at about one third of total medical equipment imports. The Colombian government is promoting the country’s medical tourism. This trend is an important opportunity for the U.S. because the industry’s success depends on high quality technology and infrastructure. Opportunities in the market include: medical, surgical, dental, and veterinary instruments; electro-diagnostic apparatuses; orthopedic devices; hearing aids; prosthetics; diagnostic imaging equipment; laboratory equipment and consumables; ultrasound, mammography, and cardiovascular equipment; dermatological and laser treatment apparatuses and apparel; and intensive care, cardiology, neurology, and oncology-related equipment.

Processed Food and Beverages

Colombia is a growing market for value-added, processed and packaged food products. The prepared food market is driven by wellness trends, with health consciousness on the rise. This generates increased demand from middle-to-high income consumers for premium products regarded as non-essentials, while expansion of private labels offers growth opportunities for the low-income segment. Healthy and ethnic food categories are growing quickly, and wines and gourmet products are penetrating the market with great results. Organic food products are a new trend and retailers are searching for the best suppliers. Opportunities in the market include: beef and beef products, buttermilk, chewing gum, cinnamon, dried mushrooms, fresh fruits, healthy food products, infant foods, liqueurs and cordials, mixes and dough, nuts, pork and pork products, prepared bean products, prepared tomato products, turkey meat, uncooked pasta, vermouth, whiskey, wine, and yoghurt.

Trade Regulations & Customs Information

Import Tariffs: Most of Colombia’s duties have been consolidated into three tariff levels: 0 percent to 5 percent on capital goods, industrial goods, and raw materials not produced in Colombia; 10 percent on manufactured goods, with some exceptions; and 15 percent to 20 percent on consumer and “sensitive” goods. Many agricultural commodities are benefiting from the FTA as almost 70 percent of current U.S. farm exports to Colombia became duty-free and the remaining tariffs will be eliminated within 19 years.

Import Duty: About 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia became duty free immediately on May 15, 2012 when the FTA between the United States and Colombia entered into effect. For remaining products the tariffs will be phased out over 10 years. Key U.S. exports gained immediate duty-free access to Colombia. Many agricultural commodities also benefit from the Agreement, as more than half of current U.S. farm exports to Colombia became duty-free immediately, and virtually all remaining tariffs will be eliminated within 15 years.

Import Requirements and Documentation: The importer must submit an import declaration to the DIAN (Customs). This declaration includes the same information contained on the import registration form and other information such as the duty and sales tax paid, and the bank where these payments were made. This declaration may be presented up to 15 days prior to the arrival of the merchandise to Colombia or up to two months after the shipment’s arrival. Once the import declaration is presented and import duties are paid, customs will authorize the delivery of the merchandise. Most of Colombia’s foreign trade procedures have been streamlined through the Unified Portal for Foreign Trade (VUCE), which gives users access to forms, online payments and follow-up on requests and processes related to an import or export operation. Products that require special documentation include: vegetables, plants, fruits, animals, gold, emeralds, oil, coal, nickel, platinum, textiles, products exported through the General System of Preferences (GSP), and products exported through any free trade agreement.

Customs Regulations: When exporting to Colombia, make arrangements with a Customs Agency to receive the merchandise and clear it through customs. Customs officials are responsible for inspecting merchandise to verify that the description and classification are consistent with the importer’s declaration. A customs inspection group often performs after-clearance random investigations to detect fraud, foreign exchange irregularities, and tax evasion. Major customhouse brokers have a customs office in their own bonded warehouses where most clearance procedures are completed before the merchandise is delivered to the customer.

U.S. Export Controls: U.S. exporters should be aware that the U.S. Government may prohibit the export of certain products to Colombia or require an export license. The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Office of Export Enforcement licenses most controlled product and technology exports. Licenses are required for certain high technology items or technology transfers and items with dual use potential (commercial items which could have military applications). In recent years there have been increased restrictions on the export of precursor chemicals to Colombia, due to concerns they may be utilized by narcotics traffickers to produce drugs.

Source: The International Trade Administration (ITA), U.S. Department of Commerce

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