Volume 44, Number 174,
July-September 2013
Colombia: Commercial Integration
and Trade Imbalances in the Pacific Basin
Jaime Torres
DATA ON INDUSTRIAL EXPORTS FROM COLOMBIA TO THE REST OF THE WORLD

Figures 4 and 5 show how exports of oil and metallurgical derivatives multiplied by more than 10 times between 1996 and 2011 (value indices).2 The added value of these industrial exports is low — except iron and steel sheets — as the processes to refine oil and for carbon coking, which highly contaminates the environment, are elemental.

Growth rates for the rest of the export industries, both lightweight and other, were less dynamic, growing between one and four times. The 2009 global crisis had a clear impact on the lightweight, automotive and machinery industries and by 2011, recovery was still low.


Figure 4. Value Index of Basic Industrial Exports, 1995-2011 (average 1995/97=1.00)


Source: Calculated by the author based on http://www.dane.gov.co/index.php?option=com:content&view=article&id=76<emid=56, consulted on June 9, 2012.


Figure 5. Value Index of Lightweight Industrial Exports, 1995-2011 (average 1995/97=1.00)


Source: Calculated by the author based on http://www.dane.gov.co/index.php?option=com:content&view=article&id=76<emid=56, consulted on June 9, 2012.

IMPORT PENETRATION3 AND THE EVOLUTION OF EMPLOYMENT BY SECTOR

This section aims to analyze the commercial balances by industrial sector that showed greatest competition in the Pacific region, especially those that created the highest volume of employment. Figure 6 shows how the formerly strong Colombian cotton-based textile industry is facing strong import penetration. In 2010, export values were matched and in 2011 exceeded by values of imports, whose amounts have tripled over the past years. Products imported from China reached 454 million dollars in 2011, constituting a more powerful competitive challenge. In the clothing industry, which has historically generated the highest volume of industrial employment in the country, the level of Asian import penetration rose from 10% in 2006 to 76% in 2011, cementing how imports have conquered a significant portion of the local market. The main provider is China, whose values have grown systematically and in 2011 reached 383 million dollars. It is of note that Colombian textile and clothing exports to the rest of the world reached a peak in 2007 at 1.099 million dollars, and since then they have lost market share, falling to a stagnant average of 530 million dollars over the past three years.

2 Value indices were built using the average value of exports in 1995 and 1997 = 1.00, with current US dollars.

3 Import penetration: calculated as a percentage given by the value of imports in a given year over the value of exports in the same year. A higher percentage means higher import penetration.

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 194 July-September 2018 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,
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