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Colombia: South America’s Rising Global Trade Influencer

The Republic of Colombia, a coastal nation in the northwest region of South America, has endured a colorful history marked by the legacy of early civilizations and Spanish influence, and marred by violent conflicts between drug cartels in the late twentieth century. In recent years, however, Colombia has emerged as the fourth largest economy among Latin American nations, with the promise of steady growth and the likelihood of becoming a top global influencer toward the end of the 21st century.

Bogotá (Source: Wikipedia)

Following the worst of the nation’s internal problems with drug wars, Colombia experienced a slow economic growth due to government reforms designed to assist the lower class. The beginnings of an economy recovery coincided with the turn of the century, and while unemployment affects a tenth of the overall population (with nearly half of Colombia’s people living below poverty levels) many workers get by mainly in the service industries.

Main exports of Colombia to their main trade partners – which include the United States, Venezuela, and The Netherlands – include:

  • Natural Fuels  – Petroleum and coal are the top fuel exports shipped out of Colombia. Like other South American nations, Colombia maintains a fairly thriving mining industry, and is behind only Brazil in terms of coal reserves.  An estimated three billion barrels of petroleum are also shipped out annually.

  • Coffee – Many Americans associate the Colombian icon Juan Valdez with coffee. Indeed, this mascot represents one of the more popular agricultural crops imported by nations around the world.

  • Nickel – Colombia is one of the top producers of nickel in the world. An estimated fifty thousand tons are mined each year.

  • Bananas – Behind coffee and flowers, bananas are among the important agricultural crops in the country, with nearly all of their supply exported to major trade partners.

Consequently, the United States is also Colombia’s top import partner, as more than a quarter of overall imports are received from the US. China, Mexico, and Brazil round out the top import traders, who provide Colombia with the following:

  • Industrial Equipment – Equipment used for agricultural maintenance and mining is exported in order to keep up with the country’s need to export.

  • Automotive and Transportation –  While the automotive industry is showing some growth, the nation continues to import a good percentage of transportation equipment.

  • Paper and Paper Goods – Colombia also enjoys a healthy paper manufacturing industry, though paper goods remain a popular import item.

As a top trade influencer in Latin America, Colombia stands to increase economically  as attention is paid to their strength – mineral mining and production and in-demand crops. Though second behind Brazil and Costa Rica in production and export of select goods, one can predict heavy competition from Colombia in the future.



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