Colombia – Country Profile

Colombia – Country Profile


General Information

Official Name: Republic of Colombia
Capital: Bogota
Total Area: 1,138,914 sq km
Population (in thousands): 43,677
Currency: 1 CAD = 1, 86 Colombia Pesos (COP) (2010)
National Holiday: 20 July (1810)
Languages: Spanish
Main Cities: Cali, Medellin, Barranquilla and Cartagena


Political Information

Type of State: Republic
Head of State & Government: President Juan Manuel Santos
Vice President: Angelino Garzon
Elections: Last –May, 2010 Next -2014

Economic Information

Colombia Canada
GDP  (PPP): $400.3 billion $1.287 trillion
GDP per capita: $9,200 $38,400
GDP annual growth rate: -0.1% (2.4% in 2008) -2.4%  (0.4% in 2008)
GDP – composition by sector Agriculture: 9.1%

Industry: 38.2%

Services: 52.8%

Agriculture: 2%

Industry: 28.4%

Services: 69.6%

Unemployment Rate 12% 8.5%
Poverty Level 49.2% (2005) 4.9% (2004 data from

the Fraser Institute)

Inflation Rate (Consumer prices): 3% 0.2%
Main Industries Textiles, food processing, oil,
clothing and footwear,
beverages, chemicals,
cement; gold, coal, emeralds
Transportation equipment, chemicals, processed and unprocessed minerals, food products, wood and paper products, fish products, petroleum and natural gas
Note: 2009 data in US dollars unless otherwise indicated

Political and Economic Stability

In the years prior to the 2008 global financial crisis, Colombia experienced increasing economic growth as its government continued to introduce investor friendly reforms and improve domestic security. Since 2008, Colombia has been making a concerted effort to expand its foreign export markets and is expected to maintain a business-friendly environment in the near future. The political environment is currently stable and it is expected that the recently elected President Juan Carlos Santos will continue with the same policies as his predecessor.

Canada and Colombia signed a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) in 2008.  The agreement is expected to be implemented in the near future, and will significantly expand import and export opportunities between Canadian and Colombian businesses. For up to date information on the Canada-Colombia FTA, please visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada online at:

In terms of security, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) recommends that Canadians exercise caution when traveling in Colombia and that certain regions be avoided altogether. For detailed and up-to-date information on travel security, please refer to the DFAIT Travel Report for Colombia:

Trade Information


Trade Partners & Direction
of Trade Flow
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Average Yearly Growth
Colombian Exports to World 25,647,426 27,652,538 32,054,134 39,853,708 n/a 12%
Colombian Exports to United States 10,722,000 10,508,000 10,139,000 13,957,000 12,927,000 5%
Colombian Exports to Canada 583,615 640,393 468,515 638,652 733,730 6%
Canadian Exports to Colombia 448,202 513,205 662,247 708,824 601,649 8%
Note: Value in thousands of Canadian dollars
Data from Statistics Canada and the International Trade Centre.

The World Bank’s annual Doing Business report ranks economies from 1 to 183 (with 1 being the best) on their ease of doing business. In the 2010 report, Colombia ranked 37st overall, a drastic improvement from its 2009 ranking of 49th place. In terms of the ease with which a standardized shipment of goods can be imported or exported across its borders, Colombia ranked 97th. The estimated average time required to ship goods out of Colombia is approximately 14 days, with an average estimated cost of 1,770 USD per 20-foot container. To complete the export process, 6 forms of documentation are required: a packing list, a bill of lading, a commercial invoice, a certificate of origin, a customs export declaration, and an inspection report.

Although there are many reputable exporters in Colombia, Canadian importers should be aware that corruption can be an issue when doing business. Colombia ranked 75th out of 180 in Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index where 1st place indicates least corrupt.  Canadian companies are advised to exercise due diligence before working with a Colombian company to ensure that it is a bona fide and reputable entity. To inquire about a specific company or for further information on this issue, please contact the Colombian Commercial Office in Toronto at or 416-363-9225.

Trade Opportunities

Colombia is highly dependent on its petroleum exports, which constitute almost half of its total export earnings.  Nevertheless, Colombia has a diverse climate and topography which permit the cultivation of a wide variety of crops, while its increasingly skilled workforce produces high quality and low-cost goods and services.  As a result, Colombian exporters can provide a range of products that are in high demand amongst North American consumers. Despite the geographic proximity of the two countries, Canada is only Colombia’s 24th largest export partner, the United States being its most important.  This reality indicates that there is ample room for Canadian businesses to increase and expand imports from Colombia.

Bananas, coffee and sugar are Colombia’s most important exports to Canada after natural resources. Beyond these staple products, however, Colombian producers have a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to offer Canadian importers. The high quality of produce and year-round available supply makes Colombian produce very attractive to Canadian importers. The most popular agricultural exports are tropical fruits such as coconuts, mangoes, passion fruit, papaya, and pineapple.

There is significant opportunity to expand Canadian imports of these products, while baby banana, pitahaya, lime, physalis and watermelon crops provide new opportunities for Canadian importers.  Also available for import are processed fruits and vegetables, fruit juices and beverages, fruit concentrates, fruit pulp, and confectioned sugar treats.

Colombia is the world’s 2nd largest exporter of cut flowers. The sector has been experiencing steady growth over past years and has introduced several initiatives to produce environmentally friendly and sustainable plantations, which grow a wide assortment of flowers. For more information on import opportunities for Colombian flowers, visit the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters at

Colombia’s talented artisans make use of an extensive selection of natural materials including wood, leather, precious stones, ceramic, and a variety of natural fibres to craft home décor items and household furniture. Similarly, these natural materials are used to produce clothing, accessories and other household textiles.  Colombia’s clothing and textile industries offer some of the most promising opportunities for Canadian businesses, as does the jewellery sector, particularly for accessories made from gold and semiprecious stones.

Increasing in importance is Colombia’s service economy, which is primarily comprised of tourism and information technology exports such as call centers, software development, and animation.

TFO Export Offers

TFO Canada provides an information service for Canadian importers interested in sourcing products from developing and emerging economies such as Colombia.  This includes practical advice on sourcing from developing country exporters, a customized news bulletin, and a searchable database for sourcing new products or suppliers. The chart below provides a rough idea of the number of Colombian supplier profiles available in the TFO Canada database. To access supplier profiles and their contact information, please visit the TFO Canada supplier database online.

Industry Group No. of suppliers in TFO Data Base
Food Products and Beverages (incl. Seafood)
Clothing (not including footwear)
Home Décor, Giftware and Crafts
Automotive & Accessories
Fashion Accessories
Personal Care, Pharmaceuticals & Natural Health Products
Industrial Goods, Machinery, Parts and Raw Materials
Building Materials, Hardware and Handtools
Furniture (Indoor and Outdoor)
Housewares and Hardware
Sports and Leisure
Animals and Animal Based Products
Chemicals, Minerals and Allied Products
Office and Other Professional Supplies

Upcoming Trade Shows

International Footwear & Leather Show
3-6 August, 2010
Corferias-Centro de Convensiones, Bogota, Colombia

Fair Home (Feria del Hogar)
2-19 September, 2010
Corferias-Centro de Convenciones, Bogota, Colombia

Gifts and Handicrafts Show
10-21 December, 2010
Corferias-Centro de Convenciones, Bogota, Colombia

Contact Information

Colombian Government Trade Commission
100 King Street
Toronto, ON
(416) 363-9225

Useful Links

Association of Colombian Flower Exporters –
Government of Colombia Trade Bureau –
Colombian Embassy in Ottawa –
Colombian Exporters Catalogue –
Colombian Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (Spanish only) –
PROEXPORT Colombia –

Links to Cited Documents

CIA World Factbook, Colombia –
EDC Country Information –
Industry Canada, Trade Data Online –
International Trade Centre, Trade Map –
U.S. Department of State, Background Note:
Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index 2009 –
World Bank, Ease of Doing Business Report –