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Datamyne Blog

Covering trade & transport, with tips on using import-export data to advantage

Scoping out Colombia

Trade data provides details of this market for US exports

Now that the long-pending US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA) is gaining some traction, US companies are sizing up the potential for doing business after the barriers to US exports come down.

Always a good place to start is the US Commercial Service’s Doing Business in Colombia site. There you’ll find an overview of the country, useful links and resources, and promotion opportunities. The market research on offer includes a commercial guide for exporters, updated annually, and a Best Prospects report on the most promising sectors for non-agricultural goods and services, ranked in order of market size/potential growth. Top of the list is oil and gas machinery and services, followed by plastic materials and resins, then construction and mining equipment.

It’s a good place to start, but it’s just a start. To zoom in on the market potential for a particular product, you need more granular – and more recent – information about what’s going on in the target market.

That’s the kind of information you can get from Datamyne’s Colombian trade database.

We did some quick research of Colombia’s imports in 2010 (early 2011 data is also available, but we wanted a year’s worth of data) to get a sense of the level of detail available. We found that Colombia’s imports totaled $40.7 billion (in CIF value) last year, with the US the top country source, accounting for 25.75%.

Then we started looking at companies importing from the US. The top five:

  1. Empresa Colombiana de Petroleos (ECOPETROL), oil and gas company
  2. Carrones del Cerrejon LLC, mining company
  3. Refineria de Cartegena S.A., oil and gas refiner
  4. Aerovias de Integracion Regional S.A. (AIRES), airline
  5. Drummond Ltd., mining company

… not much of a surprise, given that this is based on imports by value and these are leaders in the US Commercial Service’s Best Prospects sectors. But these five are at the apex of a long list of Colombian companies buying a range of US products – a list that also includes (picking at random from the $1.5-2.5-million range of US import purchases):

  • High Nutrition Company E.U., an importer of beauty and skin care preparations, vitamins and “nutraceuticals”
  • Confecciones Leonisa S.A., manufacturers of intimate apparel, and importers of sewing machines, textiles, clasps and buckles
  • Wonderful Meubles, importers of carpets, seats, furniture and furniture parts

The 2010 data reports 13,257 Colombian importers in all.

We also looked at the US products and commodities being imported. That’s a list of 3,794 products by six-digit tariff code, starting with these five:

  1. oil (not crude) from petrol & bituminous mineral, etc. (271019)
  2. airplane & other aircraft, unladen weight > 15,000KG (880240)
  3. vinyl chloride (chloroethylene) (290321)
  4. propene (propylene) (290122)
  5. dumpers designed for off-highway use (870410)

Once you pull a list of results like these from the database online, you can click on an individual item for more detail. We clicked on fifth-ranked dump trucks to see who’s importing them. Here are the top five, all in Colombia’s coal/carbon mining sector:

  1. Carbones Del Cerrejon LLC
  2. Drummond Ltda. Colombia
  3. Masering Ltda.
  4. Consorcio Minero Unido S.A.
  5. C.I. Prodeco Productors de Colombia S.A.

We drilled down for more detail about products as we scrolled down the list. For example, we not only found Colombia’s top importers of DAP (HS 310530 – diammonium hydrogenorthophosphate) – led by chemicals giant Monomeros Colombo Venezolanos S.A. – but that Colombia’s imports of this fertilizer from the US (its primary source) jumped 142% from 2009 to 2010.

Further along the list, we looked up the importers of spectacle lenses of materials other than glass (HS 900150) – Sola Optical de Colombia Ltda., Servi-Optica Sociedad Ltda., and VisionLab S.A. are the top three – suspension shock absorbers (HS 870880), dog and cat food (HS 230910), and kaolin and other kaolinic clays (HS 250700). The Datamyne Colombian data also lets you drill down to individual transaction records that cover purchase and logistical details.

Of course, rather than rambling through “all imports” as we did, most companies looking for export opportunities will start their research focused on specific product areas. If you’d like to learn more about researching trade in your product, you can schedule an online demo, guided by one of Datamyne’s information specialists. It’s free, there’s no obligation attached, and you keep the research results. Click here to request a demo.

Date posted: April 7, 2011

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