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Colombia: Economy#

Colombia's consistently sound economic policies and aggressive promotion of free trade agreements in recent years have bolstered its ability to weather external shocks. Colombia depends heavily on energy and mining exports, making it vulnerable to a drop in commodity prices. Colombia is the world's fourth largest coal exporter and Latin America's fourth largest oil producer. Economic development is stymied by inadequate infrastructure, inequality, poverty, narcotrafficking and an uncertain security situation.

Declining oil prices have resulted in a drop in government revenues. In 2014, Colombia passed a tax reform bill to offset the lost revenue from the global drop in oil prices. The SANTOS administration is also using tax reform to help finance implementation of a peace deal between FARC and the government. Colombian officials estimate a peace deal may bolster economic growth by up to 2%.

Despite austerity measures put in place by the SANTOS administration, GDP and foreign direct investment fell in 2015, while the El Nino weather phenomenon caused food and energy prices to rise, with inflation spiking to 6.8%. In order to combat inflation, the Central Bank raised interest rates four times during the last four months of 2015, ending the year with a 25 basis point increase to 5.75%. Unemployment has continued to decrease and hit a record low of 8.9% in 2015, but the rate is still one of Latin America's highest. Nevertheless, Colombia’s GDP growth rate makes it the region’s best performer among large economies in 2015.

Real GDP growth averaged 4.8% per year from 2010-2014, continuing a decade of strong economic performance, before dropping in 2015. All three major ratings agencies upgraded Colombia's government debt to investment grade in 2013 and 2014, which helped to attract record levels of investment, mostly in the hydrocarbons sector. However, Standard & Poor’s downgraded its long-term outlook from stable to negative in early 2016. The change, due largely to falling government revenues, could cause Colombia to lose its investment-grade bond status.

The SANTOS Administration's foreign policy has focused on bolstering Colombia's commercial ties and boosting investment at home. Colombia has signed or is negotiating Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with more than a dozen countries; the US-Colombia FTA went into force in May 2012. The US and Colombia have benefitted from the FTA, but Colombia’s ability to take full advantage of its enhanced access to American markets continues to be constrained by lack of export diversification. Nontariff measures remain a point of contention for bilateral trade relations. Truck scrappage regulation, and restrictions on liquor, pharmaceutical, and ethanol imports are top irritants in the bilateral trade relationship. Colombia is a founding member of the Pacific Alliance - a regional trade block formed in 2012 by Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru to promote regional trade and economic integration. In 2013, Colombia began its accession process to the OECD.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$690.4 billion (2016 est.)
$675.7 billion (2015 est.)
$655.5 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$274.1 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate2.2% (2016 est.)
3.1% (2015 est.)
4.4% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$14,200 (2016 est.)
$14,000 (2015 est.)
$13,800 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving20% of GDP (2016 est.)
21.3% of GDP (2015 est.)
21.1% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 63.3%
government consumption: 18.8%
investment in fixed capital: 26.3%
investment in inventories: 0.9%
exports of goods and services: 13.5%
imports of goods and services: -22.8% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 6.9%
industry: 34%
services: 59.1% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productscoffee, cut flowers, bananas, rice, tobacco, corn, sugarcane, cocoa beans, oilseed, vegetables; shrimp; forest products
Industriestextiles, food processing, oil, clothing and footwear, beverages, chemicals, cement; gold, coal, emeralds
Industrial production growth rate1.9% (2016 est.)
Labor force24.43 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 17%
industry: 21%
services: 62% (2011 est.)
Unemployment rate9.5% (2016 est.)
8.9% (2015 est.)
Population below poverty line27.8% (2015 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 1.1%
highest 10%: 42% (2012 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index53.5 (2012)
56.9 (1996)
Budgetrevenues: $76.06 billion
expenditures: $84.23 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues27.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-3% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt50.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
49.6% of GDP (2015 est.)
note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices)7.8% (2016 est.)
5% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rate5.75% (18 December 2015)
4.75% (31 December 2011)
Commercial bank prime lending rate14.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
11.45% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$38.29 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$32.82 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$177.5 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$161.7 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$148.4 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$133.8 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$85.96 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$146.7 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$202.7 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Current account balance-$14.31 billion (2016 est.)
-$18.76 billion (2015 est.)
Exports$33.64 billion (2016 est.)
$38.12 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiespetroleum, coal, emeralds, coffee, nickel, cut flowers, bananas, apparel
Exports - partnersUS 27.5%, Panama 7.2%, China 5.2%, Spain 4.4%, Ecuador 4% (2015)
Imports$47.15 billion (2016 est.)
$52.04 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesindustrial equipment, transportation equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, paper products, fuels, electricity
Imports - partnersUS 28.8%, China 18.6%, Mexico 7.1%, Germany 4.2% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$46.08 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$46.22 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$110.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$107.3 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$161.7 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$149.7 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$50.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$47.3 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange ratesColombian pesos (COP) per US dollar -
3,051.1 (2016 est.)
2,741.8 (2015 est.)
2,741.8 (2014 est.)
2,001.1 (2013 est.)
1,798 (2012 est.)