Thanks to the use of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States, Colombia managed to exceed all export figures to that country since 2014, registering sales of US$14,757.5 million.
Nine years ago, the figure was US$14.223 million. According to DANE data, this increase represents 34.7%, thanks to the fact that the non-mining-energy sector participated with 53% of sales last year. In 2021, exports reached US$10,959.6 million. Likewise, they showed an increase of 65.4% compared to 2020, when they were US$8,923 million and 28.1% higher than the 2019 levels of US$11,520.1 million.
In this regard, María Claudia Lacouture, executive president of the Colombian American Chamber of Commerce, AmCham Colombia, stated that “the figures with the United States reflect the importance of having a Free Trade Agreement that provides clear rules for business, but also the need to strengthen promotional actions so that more Colombian products reach that destination”.
By sectors, the non-mining-energy item, for the third consecutive year, exceeded the flows and participation of the mining-energy sector, accounting for US$7,757.4 million and 53% of the total basket; and US$7,000.1 million and representing 47%, respectively.
When looking by macrosectors, agriculture is the one with the greatest growth and potential. In 2022, the sales of these products were recorded at US$4,552.4 million with an increase of 29.3% compared to 2021, when they reached US$3,521.2 million; Compared to 2020, the rebound was 56.5%, having been registered at US$2,909.6 million; and 60.1%, contrasting 2019, for a value of US$2,842.6 million.
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“It is important to highlight the sustained growth and strengthening of the non-mining-energy sector in recent years. Colombia has made progress in phytosanitary matters and there are still opportunities. In a recent study carried out by AmCham Colombia, we found that the agricultural sector, especially agro-industrial goods, have a growth opportunity of up to 250% towards the US market in the next decade. In order to increase exports, it is necessary to continue with the work of promotion in the US market and strengthening the competitiveness of all sectors of the industry so that other sectors increase their sales in the United States”, said Lacouture.
Among the results, subsectors such as fruits stand out, which went from US$210.8 million in 2021 to US$312.3 million in 2022, an increase of 48.1% and 90.2% compared to 2019; food, beverages and tobacco grew 33.6% in 2022, going from US$473.9 million to US$633.4 million and 76.8% compared to 2019; coffee, tea and spices increased 32.9% in 2022 and 68.6% analyzing 2019; fish (+32.1% and +83%, respectively); sugars and candies (+28.3% and +40.6%); vegetables (+25.3% and +47.8%, respectively); animals and their products (+23.4% and +79.5%); and flowers (+21.9% and +42.3%, respectively).
“In order to achieve the stated potential, it is key to address the challenges that are part of this 2023: inflation; the economic slowdown and a weak growth forecast in the country; At the same time, conditions are provided to companies that allow a greater boost in productivity and efficiency in favor of development and generation of formal employment”, highlighted the president of AmCham Colombia.
From another perspective, manufacturing has also contributed to the good performance of the trade relationship with the US. Metals and its manufactures grew 55.4%, going from US$448.4 million in 2021 to US$696.9 million in 2022 and 95.4% compared to 2019, when they were registered at US$356.7 million; iron and steel foundry inputs rose 50.9% in 2022 in the order of US$37.8 million and 1,073.8% compared to 2019; inputs of electrical machinery grew 33.3% and 97.3%, respectively; paper and its manufactures (+23.5% and 51.6%, respectively); chemical products (+21.9% and 41.3%, in each period analyzed), among others.
The directive assured that “the upward result of Colombian sales to the United States responds to the benefits offered by the trade agreement, which has allowed the growth and diversification of the export basket of differentiated products and with some added value. At the same time, the volatility in international prices of both non-mining-energy goods and oil derivatives”.