Beginning in 1990, Colombia opened up its economy to greater international trade and investment. The program of liberalization resulted in mass privatizations and lifting of restrictions on foreign investment; and substantially reduced import tariffs while eliminating most import licensing requirements. The government also signed the Andean Free Trade Agreement (ANCOM) with Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia; the Latin American Integration Association (LAIA) with Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras; a Bilateral Free Trade Agreement with Chile; and an agreement with Mexico and Venezuela called the Group of Three (G-3).
Colombia also has several free-trade zones, the largest of which is Barranquilla, on the Caribbean. Other free-trade zones providing benefits for importers and exporters, as well as for manufacturers located within the zone boundaries, are the Buenaventura Harbor, Cúcuta, Palmaseca (near Cali's international airport), and the Caribbean port of Santa Marta. The illicit trade in marijuana and cocaine, especially to the US, is known to be substantial, but there are no reliable estimates of its volume or its value. The Colombian government estimated in 1999 that drug traffickers smuggled $5 billion annually in contraband into the country.
Colombia exports 14% of the world's coffee, the country's second-largest commodity export (9%). Fuels contribute largely to the export market, including crude and refined petroleum (36%); and coal, lignite, and peat (6.4%). Agricultural exports like fruit, nuts, vegetables, sugar, and honey account for 4.2% of Colombia's exports.
In 2000 Colombia's imports were distributed among the following categories:
Principal trading partners in 2000 (in millions of US dollars) were as follows: