This information is derived from the State Department's Office of Investment Affairs, Investment Climate Statement. Any questions on the ICS can be directed to EB-ICS-DL@state.gov
Last Published: 8/1/2017
With increased security, a market of 49 million people, an abundance of natural resources, and an educated and growing middle-class, Colombia continues to be an attractive destination for foreign investment in South America.  While the Colombian government has taken significant steps to open the country to global trade and investment, the country’s rate of GDP growth declined to 2 percent in 2016, after an average GDP growth rate over 4 percent for the past decade.  In the World Bank’s 2017 Ease of Doing Business Report, Colombia ranked 53 out of 190 countries and fourth in the region, behind Mexico, Chile, and Peru.  Since 2014 Colombia has also struggled to adapt to the sustained dip in world oil prices, its largest export, and a significant devaluation of the peso.

Colombia’s legal and regulatory systems are generally transparent and consistent with international norms.  The country has a comprehensive legal framework for business and foreign direct investment (FDI).  The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA), which took effect on May 15, 2012, has strengthened bilateral trade and investment.  Through the CTPA and several international conventions and treaties, Colombia’s dispute settlement mechanisms and intellectual property rights protections have improved.  However, the proliferation of piracy and counterfeit products are significant challenges, and among the primary reasons Colombia remains on the U.S. Trade Representative’s Special 301 Watch List.

The Colombian government has made a concerted effort to develop efficient capital markets, attract investment, and create jobs.  In December 2016, President Santos approved a long awaited tax reform bill that entered into force on January 1, 2017.  The increased revenue from the reform will help Colombia lower the country’s growing fiscal deficit and was key to maintaining Colombia’s BBB investment-grade credit rating for the time being.  Restrictions on foreign ownership in specific sectors still exist.  FDI increased 16 percent 2016 relative to 2015, largely due to increased investment in the agricultural, electricity, transport and financial services sectors, despite continued reduced investment in the extractives industry.  Colombia’s average annual unemployment rate ended a seven year consecutive decline, rising to 9.2 percent in 2016.  About 49 percent of the workforce is in the informal economy according to the Colombian Statistics Bureau (DANE).  Colombia enjoys a skilled workforce throughout the country, as well as managerial-level employees who are often bilingual.

Security in Colombia has improved significantly in recent years, with kidnappings down 93 percent from 1999 to 2015.  In 2016, Colombia experienced a significant decrease in terrorist activity, due in large part to a bilateral cease-fire between government forces and Colombia’s largest terrorist organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).  Congressional approval of a peace accord between the government and the FARC on November 30, 2016 put in motion a six-month disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration process.  Colombian government figures show that the number of terrorist acts decreased 55 percent from 2015 to 2016.  Worries remain that new criminal actors, instead of the government, could take over former FARC areas.  Despite the National Liberation Army (ELN) conducting ongoing negotiations with the government in Quito, Ecuador, beginning in January 2017, the group continues a low-cost, high-impact asymmetric insurgency.  ELN attacks, including continued attacks on energy infrastructure and bombings in Bogotá in 2017, alongside powerful narco-criminal group operations, are posing a threat to commercial activity and investment, especially in rural zones where government control is weaker.  Coca production has dramatically increased since 2015, increasing by 67 percent.

Several majority state-owned enterprises, including electric utility company ISA, are considered models of professional management, competition, and excellent corporate governance.  However, corruption remains a significant challenge in Colombia, as illustrated by a recent regional scandal involving Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, which paid significant bribes to secure infrastructure contracts.  The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (2016-2017) placed Colombia at 61 out of 138 countries.  The report cited security and corruption as among the biggest challenges for doing business in Colombia.   The Colombian government continues to work on improving its business climate, but over the past year U.S. and other foreign investors have voiced complaints about non-tariff and bureaucratic barriers to trade and investment at the national, regional, and municipal levels.

Table 29: Colombia Investment Climate Data
MeasureYearIndex/Rank
TI Corruption Perceptions Index201690 of 176
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business”201653 of 190
Global Innovation Index201663 of 128
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)2015USD 6,157
World Bank GNI per capita2015USD 7,140

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Colombia Economic Development and Investment Law