Christopher Blaha is a Senior International Economist within the Office of Trade and Policy Analysis and Julie Anglin is the Colombia Desk Officer within the International Trade Administration.
Today more than 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia become duty-free as part of the U.S. – Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. This includes agricultural and construction equipment, building products, aircraft and parts, fertilizers, information technology equipment, medical scientific equipment, and wood. Also, more than half of U.S. exports of agricultural commodities to Colombia become duty-free, including wheat, barley, soybeans, high-quality beef, bacon, and almost all fruit and vegetable products.
Growth Opportunities for U.S.-Colombia Textile Trade
The agreement also provides significant new access to Colombia’s $180 billion services market, supporting increased opportunities for U.S. service providers. For example, Colombia agreed to eliminate measures that prevented firms from hiring U.S. professionals, and to phase-out market restrictions in cable television.
Prior to the enactment of this agreement, the average tariff that U.S. manufactured goods faced entering Colombia was 10.8 percent. With entry into force today, Colombia’s average tariff rate for manufactured goods from the United States has been reduced to 4 percent.
Colombia’s 2012 real GDP growth is forecasted at 4.7 percent by the IMF’s World Economic Outlook, remaining around 4.5 percent through 2017.
Colombia’s demand for imports has soared since 2001. Colombia’s merchandise imports from the world have more than quadrupled over that period climbing from $12.8 billion in 2001 to $54.7 billion in 2011.
The United States remains the largest supplier to the Colombian market, with Colombian imports from the U.S. in 2011 totaling $13.7 billion, or one-quarter of Colombia’s imports.
Imports from the United States in 2011 were led by mineral fuels, machinery, aircraft and organic chemicals. Those four categories accounted for over half of Colombia’s imports from the U.S.
Other top Colombian import markets include China, Mexico and Brazil. The U.S. is the largest market for Colombia’s exports, representing nearly 40 percent of the Colombian export market.
The impact of the tariff reductions of U.S. exports to Colombia will be immediate for many products; including recreational vehicles, like motorcycles and pleasure boats (Colombia’s average tariff on U.S. exports will be reduced from 13.7 percent to 5.4 percent today) and agricultural equipment, like tractors and harvesters (Colombia’s average tariff will be reduced from 10.8 percent to 3.1 percent today). This will make U.S. manufactured products much more competitive and could also potentially boost sales.
The economies of the United States and Colombia are largely complementary in terms of the goods each exports to the other. For example, Colombia is a large importer of grains from the United States while it exports a number of tropical fruits to our country. In addition, U.S. cotton, yarn and fabric exports to Colombia are used in many apparel items that Colombia exports to the United States.
Facts about U.S. – Colombia Trade:
- Between 2001 and 2011 U.S. goods exports to Colombia quadrupled, growing from $3.6 billion in 2001 to $14.3 billion in 2011. U.S. goods exports in 2011 were 19 percent higher than the previous year.
- Colombia has grown from being the 33rd largest market for U.S. goods exports in 1991 to become the 22nd largest market in 2011.
- Manufactured goods represented 92 percent of U.S. goods exports to Colombia in 2011.
- Increasing exports to Colombia has benefits at the local level as well as the national. In 2011, more than half of U.S. States (26 total) reported merchandise export shipments to Colombia above $75 million.
- In 2011, the largest state exporters of merchandise to Colombia included Texas ($5.1 billion), Florida ($2.8 billion), Louisiana ($894 million), California ($534 million) and Illinois ($454 million).
- Houston and Miami are also major metropolitan area exporters to Colombia.
The provisions of the agreement and the resulting tariff cuts present new opportunities for U.S. companies and give U.S. exporters an advantage over exporters from Colombia’s non-FTA partners. The International Trade Administration maintains a database that helps exporters monitor when tariffs on specific products go to zero. The FTA Tariff Tool currently has information relating to manufactured products.