Volume 44, Number 174,
July-September 2013
Colombia: Commercial Integration
and Trade Imbalances in the Pacific Basin
Jaime Torres
TYPES OF COMPANIES EXPORTING TO ASIA

Trends in the commercial balance between Colombia and the Asian Pacific Basin point to a growing deficit. By 2010 and 2011, Colombian exports spiked based on new contracts for sales of coal and crude oil, aimed at a growing number of these Asian nations. This dynamic has been supported by favorable global prices and a commercial offensive undertaken by the Colombian government to broaden trade with the Pacific and compensate for a future decline in sales to the Venezuelan market. In this effort, private multinational mining companies,1 as well as the state enterprise Colombian Oil Company (Ecopetrol), have taken the initiative to enter these new markets. Some other large business consortiums, such as sugar leaders or various companies producing chemicals and foods, have also made efforts with still marginal values, but they are opening the door to establish lasting markets. The export presence of small and medium-sized Colombian companies is almost non-existent in Asia, indicating that the openness of foreign markets in far away and non-traditional zones exceeds the present capacity of the immense majority of these enterprises, which will require targeted strategies with state support and/or cooperation if they hope to contribute in a significant manner to Colombian exports.

In other areas, it is clear that up until now, large consortiums are better able to exercise efficient commercial competitiveness in trade between Colombia and the Asian bloc, confirming the “new theory of international commerce” (Krugman and Obstfeld, 2010), in the sense that “inter-monopolistic competition” dominates the majority of global markets (and emerging markets), while a large swath of small and medium-sized producers and exporters are relegated to marginal roles or excluded altogether.

PRIMARY EXPORTS VS. INDUSTRIAL IMPORTS

The main Colombian exports to the Asian Pacific are:

  • Oil, coal, iron-nickel and coffee (primary products) and
  • Fuel oil and other oil derivatives, metallurgical coke and chemical products

Imports in the region include:

  • Industrial products (88% of the total imported in the three-year period of 2009-2011)

Exports grew rapidly in 2010 thanks to crude oil (862 million dollars) and thermal coal (661 million dollars), sales that did not exist in this region in 2007. Products such as coffee, oil derivatives and iron-nickel made up the next representative volume (1.209 million dollars in 2010) and maintained the export presence achieved in previous years.

COLOMBIAN INDUSTRIAL EXPORTS TO THE PACIFIC

Industrial exports include the following, in order of magnitude (average 2008-2010 in current US dollars):

1 Thermal coal exports are dominated by the company Carbones del Cerrejón, owned by the major mining consortiums bhp Billiton, Strata and Anglo-American, from Australian, British and US capital, respectively, as well as Drummond Ltd. from the US and Glencore International, of Swiss origin. In oil, the standouts include Pacific Rubiales Energy from Canada, the US companies Occidental Petroleum Co. and Chevron Petroleum Co., as well as subsidiaries of Shell and British Petroleum Co., from Holland and England, respectively. The owner of the only nickel exporter, Cerramotoso, S.A., is bhp Billiton of Australia.

Published in Mexico, 2012-2017 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 48, Number 191, October-December 2017 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
CP 04510, México, D.F. Tel (52 55) 56 23 01 05 and (52 55) 56 24 23 39, fax (52 55) 56 23 00 97, www.probdes.iiec.unam.mx, revprode@unam.mx. Journal Editor: Alicia Girón González. Reservation of rights to exclusive use of the title: 04-2012-070613560300-203, ISSN: pending. Person responsible for the latest update of this issue: Minerva García, Circuito Maestro Mario de la Cueva s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México D.F., latest update: Nov 13th, 2017.
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