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flag Colombia Colombia: Economic and Political Outline

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline


Economic Indicators

Since 2011, Colombia has been reinforcing its image as an emerging country. Thanks to its market size, 48 million inhabitants, the extent of its natural resources (particularly emeralds, coffee, oil and coal) and a historical reputation of an exemplary debtor (Colombia is the only country which has never asked for a renegotiation of debts), the country has been experiencing strong growth for many years (average of 3% over the last thirty years) and has adopted sound macroeconomic fundamentals.

Growth, which had resumed strongly after the 2008-2009 crisis, remained over 4.5% a year since then and, supported by the increase in public spending in favor of both investment and consumption, was 3.7% in 2013.

The authorities have taken measures to preserve the public finances (in a chronic deficit), mainly by imposing restrictions in issuing bank credits and by keeping the stability of the macro-economic indicators. The new government of president Santos has launched an ambitious program of reforms aiming to reinforce taxes, to improve the management of territorial income drawn by royalties, to increase competitiveness and to control the Peso appreciation.  The fight against poverty and the development of real estate are also part of the priorities in 2014.

The unemployment rate dropped under 10% of the active population since 2011 and was 9.5% in 2013. More than half of the Colombian people continue to work in the informal sector.  The purchasing power of Colombians has stopped decreasing since 2012, the rise in the cost of living standing at 2.4% only in 2013. The poverty level remains high in 2014 (45% of the population), inequalities are strong and despite the retreat of the guerrillas, internal tensions persists and corruption remains.

Main Indicators 20112012201320142015 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 336.35369.79378.42400.12427.14
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 7,3057,93888,3948,859
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -3.4-0.9-1.1e-1.2e-1.4
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 35.732.035.8e34.033.1
Inflation Rate (%)
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force) 10.810.
Current Account (billions USD) -9.72-11.59-12.41-15.41e-16.15
Current Account (in % of GDP) -2.9-3.1-3.3e-3.9e-3.8

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database , Last Available Data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Agriculture represented in 2013 7% of the GDP and employed 18% of the active population. Due to the climate and the topography of the country, agriculture is extensive and very varied, and contributes to 75% of the export revenues. Colombia's main crops are coffee, bananas, cut flowers, cotton, sugarcane, livestock, rice and corn. The cultivated lands hardly take up 8% of the country's total surface area. Colombia has also many natural resources such as coal, oil, natural gas, iron ore, nickel and gold.

Industry represents around 30% of the GDP and employs 20% of the active population. Colombia's main industries are textile, chemical products, metallurgy, cement, cardboard containers, plastic resins and beverages.

Colombia's main economic sector is the services sector, which represents more than 63% of the GDP and employs 62% of the active population.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 16.9 20.9 62.2
Value Added (in % of GDP) 6.1 37.2 56.7
Value Added (Annual % Change) 5.5 4.1 4.7

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

Monetary Indicators 20092010201120122013
Colombian Peso (COP) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 2,158.261,898.571,848.141,796.901,868.79

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.


Learn more about Market Analyses about Colombia on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Mostly Free
World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2014 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation


Business environment ranking


The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

World Rank:

Source: The Economist - Business Environment Rankings 2014-2018


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


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Foreign Trade in Figures

In 2013, Colombia's foreign trade represented over 20% of the GDP. Colombia has signed trade agreements  with Chile, the CAN countries (Andean Community), MERCOSUR countries, Central American and Caribbean countries, and the European Union. It has also signed free trade treaties  with Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and the United States. 

The free-trade agreement with the United States came into force on the 15th of May 2012. Its impact is particularly strong for Colombia considering that the United States is by far the biggest trade partner of the country. Colombia mainly exports oil, coal, coffee, flowers, textile products, ferronickel, bananas and chemical products. Its main clients are the United States (representing 37% of exports in 2013), China, Spain and Venezuela.

Imports are constituted mainly of primary resources and machinery and equipment for the industry, grains, chemical products, transport equipment, electric and electronic equipment. Colombia's main suppliers are the United States (over 27% of imports in 2013), China, Mexico and Germany. 

Fuelled by the Chinese demand for raw materials, exports rose sharply every year since 2011.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20092010201120122013
Imports of Goods (million USD) 32,89840,68354,67559,11159,397
Exports of Goods (million USD) 32,85339,82057,42060,27458,822
Imports of Services (million USD) 6,8607,9829,41310,63510,971
Exports of Services (million USD) 4,1094,2874,6745,2195,758
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -9.110.821.58.94.5
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -2.81.311.86.15.4
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 18.217.819.919.920.2
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 16.015.918.718.317.8
Trade Balance (million USD) 2,5492,3566,1374,9563,263
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -822-1,887950-843-2,652
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 34.333.738.738.238.0

Source: WTO - World Trade Organization ; World Bank , Last Available Data


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
United States 31.8%
China 8.7%
Panama 5.5%
India 5.1%
Spain 4.9%
See More Countries 44.1%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
United States 27.7%
China 17.5%
Mexico 9.3%
Brazil 4.4%
Germany 3.7%
See More Countries 37.5%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data


Main Products

- bn USD of products exported in 2013
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 47.0%
Coal; briquettes, ovoids and similar solid fuels...Coal; briquettes, ovoids and similar solid fuels manufactured from coal 10.6%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 7.4%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 3.8%
Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated;...Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated; coffee husks and skins; coffee substitutes containing coffee in any proportion 3.3%
See More Products 27.9%
- bn USD of products imported in 2013
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 10.7%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 4.7%
Powered aircraft e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes;...Powered aircraft e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes; spacecraft, incl. satellites, and suborbital and spacecraft launch vehicles 3.4%
Automatic data processing machines and units...Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 3.3%
Transmission apparatus for radio-telephony,...Transmission apparatus for radio-telephony, radio-telegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras; still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras 2.8%
See More Products 75.1%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

See More Products
More imports (Intracen Data)
More exports (Intracen Data)

Main Services

- bn USD of services exported in 2012
- bn USD of services imported in 2012

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in English)
Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (in Spanish)
Directorate of Taxes and Customs in Colombia (in Spanish)
Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (in Spanish)
Ministry of Mines and Energy (in Spanish)
Statistical Office
National Institute of Statistics
Central Bank
Central Bank of Colombia
Stock Exchange
Bogota Stock Exchange (in Spanish)
Search Engines
Google Colombia
Economic Portals
Portafolio Review

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Political Outline

Executive Power

The president is both the head of state and the head of government. He holds executive power. The president and vice president are both elected by universal suffrage for a term of four years.

Legislative Power
The Colombian legislature is bicameral. The parliament called "Congress", consists of: the Senate (upper house) and the Chamber of Deputies (lower chamber). Members of both houses are elected for a period of four years by universal suffrage. The political rights of Colombians are limited.
Main Political Parties

The main political parties in Colombia are: PC (Conservative Party), the PDA (Alternative Democratic Pole), the PL (Liberal Party), the PSUN (Social National Unity Party), CR (Radical Change), Colombia First. Colombia has about 60 political parties with formal recognition. Most of them are not represented in the Chamber of Deputies.

Current Political Leaders
President:  Juan Manuel Santos Calderon - Social Party of National Union
Next Election Dates
Presidential election: May 2014.
Senatorial and the Chamber of Deputies Election: March 2018.

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures the violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire sent to partner organizations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and activists of human rights, including the main criteria - 44 in total - to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
3 places up compared to 2013

Source: Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2014, Reporters Without Borders


Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Partly Free
Political Freedom:

Map of freedom 2014
Source: Freedom House


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Last Updates: October 2014