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Colombia and the United States: A Successful Trade Alliance

Bilateral trade between Colombia and the United States is highly complementary and helps to increase exports, drive economic growth and create jobs in both countries. Main U.S. exports to Colombia include chemicals, petroleum and coal products, machinery, computers and electronic products, transportation equipment, and agricultural products such as pork, corn, cotton, wheat, barley and soybeans. Colombia's key exports to the United States include oil, coal, nickel, gold, flowers, coffee, bananas, tropical fruits, textiles and clothing. This complementarity has enabled a strong, long-term trade alliance between the two countries:

  • The United States is Colombia's largest trading partner.

  • Colombia is the United States' third-largest export market in Latin America behind Mexico and Brazil. 

  • U.S. exports to Colombia between June 2012 and February 2013 increased 20 percent, accounting for $11.4 billion.

  • U.S. imports from Colombia between June 2012 and February 2013 were $17.1 billion.

  • Colombia is the 7th largest U.S. supplier of crude oil and one of its most reliable and stable energy sources. In 2011, U.S. imports of crude oil from Colombia averaged 387,000 barrels / day.

  • Colombia was selected by the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank of the United States as one of nine countries with the greatest potential to support U.S. export growth.

Colombia and the United States also maintain a significant investment relationship. Approximately 250 American companies operate in nearly every sector of the Colombian economy, including energy, manufacturing, telecommunications, transport, agro-business and financial services. U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in Colombia totaled nearly $10 billion between 2000 and 2011.

Prior to the approval of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) played a key role in strengthening bilateral trade as well as in the fight against drug trafficking in Colombia. By providing duty-free access to the U.S. market for certain products from Colombia, it helped to develop and strengthen legitimate industries that provide employment alternatives to the illicit economy. Originally enacted in 1991, these trade preferences were an important and successful tool in helping to stem the cultivation, production and trafficking of illegal narcotics.

Thanks to the access granted by the ATPDEA, Colombia has become an important supplier to the United States of oil, fresh-cut flowers and apparel, which has helped to generate and support thousands of jobs in both countries. The Colombian flower industry alone, which accounts for more than 75 percent of all cut flowers in the United States, helps to directly and indirectly support more than 180,000 Colombian jobs and roughly 220,000 U.S. jobs.

On November 22, 2006, the United States and Colombia signed a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), to make permanent a reciprocal two-way trading relationship.  The FTA was approved by the U.S. Congress on October 12, 2011. After seven months of implementation work, the FTA entered into force on May 15, 2012. The FTA immediately provided duty-free access to the Colombian market for more than 80 percent of U.S. consumer and industrial goods, with remaining tariffs phased out in five to 10 years. Colombia also granted immediate duty-free access to more than 75 percent of U.S. agricultural products, with the remaining tariffs phased out over time. In addition, nearly 1,000 exports that did not benefit from one-way trade preferences under ATPDEA are now covered under the FTA.

With the agreement, Colombia is now the fifth largest open market for U.S. exports in the world after Canada, Mexico, Singapore and Australia.

For more information, visit the U.S.-Colombia FTA section of this website.


Useful links

Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Tourism 

Colombia - US Economic and Commercial Profile (in Spanish) 

Official Trade Statistics (in Spanish)

Colombia’s Government Free Trade Agreements Website (in Spanish)

Proexport (Colombia’s Government Trade, Investment and Tourism Promotion Office)