Overview of best prospect sectors, major infrastructure projects, significant government procurements and business opportunities.
Last Published: 10/9/2019
Following the signing of the peace agreement with the FARC insurgency group in 2016 and Colombia’s improving security environment over the last two decades, the country is enjoying a period of relative stability and economic prosperity that is stimulating development in several key sectors, including infrastructure, tourism, job training, education, and rural development. President Duque’s priorities include developing the “Orange Economy” (creative industries like film, music, arts, design, programming, etc.), and combating labor informality and political corruption. Colombia could see a marked increase in foreign direct investment following its May 2018 invitation to accede to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Formalizing OECD membership requires approval by Colombia’s Constitutional Court, a process that is expected to be completed in 2019. President Duque has pledged to boost foreign investment into Colombia, and his cabinet of ministers has been welcomed by the international business community, with the hope that Duque’s economic team implements tax reforms and other policies that encourage a more competitive economy and sustainable development. The United States was Colombia’s leading foreign investor in 2018, with annual investment flows totaling USD 2.5 billion and a total FDI stock of USD 7.2 billion.

The energy sector (oil and gas, mining) accounts for the majority of foreign investment into Colombia from the United States, and the sector experienced several recent developments that are opening up new opportunities for U.S. companies. In January 2019, the Ministry of Mines and Energy renewed a 20-year extension of U.S. mining concern Drummond’s La Loma mine. In February 2019, Colombia’s state-owned oil company Ecopetrol announced it would spend over USD 500 million on three pilot projects that will use hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) to extract oil and gas. Although fracking remains controversial in Colombia and faces much opposition, the pilot projects are a significant accomplishment and may pave the way for future projects using fracking technology. In addition, there was a wave of new exploration and production (E&P) contracts signed in 2019 after almost five years with no new E&P contracts. Several blocks are in offshore areas of the Caribbean and were awarded to U.S. companies, including Noble Energy and ExxonMobil. The increase in offshore activity is expected to reverse declines in Colombia’s hydrocarbon sector and generate business opportunities for maritime support services.

Colombia's extensive, ongoing infrastructure projects will generate demand for project financing, design, logistics, as well as equipment for construction of public roads and airports, water treatment, water supply, electric power generation, oil and gas exploration, pollution control technologies, port security, railway construction, transportation, security and defense items and services, and mass transit systems. The city of Bogota began the project tender process in November 2018 for the first line of the Bogota metro rail project, which is scheduled to be operational in 2024 at a cost of USD four billion.  

The United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and the United States Export Import Bank (EXIM) support U.S. companies to develop export markets and make inroads in key sectors such as oil and gas, petrochemicals, renewable energy, telecommunications, and ports. USTDA grants have resulted in significant contracts being awarded to U.S. companies at Colombia’s two oil refineries, and USTDA grants for customs security and operational enhancements at the ports of Cartagena, Buenaventura, and Puerto Salgar should increase prospects for U.S. exporters. In June 2018, OPIC’s board approved USD 300 million in financing for projects in Colombia related to highway infrastructure and development of low and middle-income housing. The passing of the BUILD Act by the U.S. Congress in October 2018 gives OPIC more resources and should strengthen its mission and ability to help U.S. companies expand internationally. In May 2019, the U.S. Senate confirmed three nominees as members of EXIM’s board of directors and restored the export credit agency to full financing capacity. The confirmation re-establishes the quorum needed for EXIM to authorize transactions greater than USD 10 million.

Colombia is one of four countries in Latin America that is authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) to use its Global Entry program that allows expedited screening and processing of low-risk, international visitors at airports in the United States. President Duque also signed an agreement in 2019 with USCBP for a Preclearance facility at Bogota’s El Dorado Airport that would allow Colombian travelers to land in the United States as if they had flown on a domestic flight. Both of these programs will facilitate increased business and leisure travel by Colombians to the United States.

Other opportunities for U.S. exporters include: agricultural products like cotton, wheat, and pork; automotive parts and accessories; aviation parts and accessories; computer hardware and software services; IT equipment and services; electrical power systems; safety and security equipment; food and beverage processing and packaging equipment; medical equipment; plastics materials and resins; oil and gas equipment; and mining equipment.

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 Trade Development and Promotion