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Interview with President Santos "Prosperity for all"

Article - April 24, 2012
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos discusses the country's booming economy, and his government's plans for diversification and wealth distribution
PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS

Colombia is currently enjoying one of the best economic periods in its history. What are your thoughts on this?

Today, our economic indicators are positive and show that in 2011 the country’s economic growth was close to 6%, sustained by internal demand, and against a backdrop of global deceleration.

At the same time, investment in Colombia has been very dynamic. The investment rate is at 28% of GDP, its highest level in history. This has positive implications on the expansion of the country’s production capacity in the medium term.

As a reference, I can tell you that Colombia’s rate of investment is the highest of the region after Argentina, and it increased almost 15 percentage points of the GDP in less than 10 years.  This, together with the government’s strategy to implement reforms that will stimulate the generation of formal employment, has been reflected in the creation of 1.9 million jobs since August 2010. By December 2011, the unemployment rate had maintained a single-digit figure for four months. Formal employment registered an increase of 6% in 2011.

This dynamism in the economy has been accompanied by a strategy led by the government and businessmen to diversify exports, along with the signing of commercial agreements with the United States, Canada, Mexico and the EU, among others. It is no coincidence that in 2011 external sales of goods and services reached a record $60 billion.

The best evidence of the confidence that foreign investors have in us is the amount of foreign investment that is arriving into the country, which in 2011 made Colombia second in the region in terms of receipts of foreign resources for long-term investments, and we had the fifth greatest growth rate in the world last year.

Having a solid financial system, low inflation rate and responsible management of public finances guarantees the reliability of our policies. It is important to recall the recent announcement of the Colombian Ministry of Finance, which revealed that, according to preliminary calculations, last year the fiscal deficit of the public sector reached 2.2% of the GDP, lower than what had been predicted for 2011 (3.4%) and registered in 2010 (3.2%).

How important is financial management?

Coherence in our macroeconomic management has made it possible for Colombia to face the shocks of the international economy and quickly get back on track.
A fiscal law was approved last year to have a certain discipline in the government’s fiscal accounts to avoid an excessive increase in our debt, as is happening in many countries in Europe.

Lowering unemployment rates, generating quality employment and reducing poverty are still our main challenges for the future.

PRESIDENT
JUAN MANUEL SANTOS

You have said it is important to work in every sector to avoid catching the famous ‘Dutch Disease.’ [An increase in exploitation of natural resources leading to a decline in manufacturing and other sectors.]

We have identified five key sectors of the economy that could help the country’s growth, which we call ‘locomotives’. They are: infrastructure, housing, agriculture, mining and innovation. Our new institutional fiscal frame is made to support precisely those sectors and promote the country’s economic development. 
This new institutional framework gives the country a comparative advantage because it lets us generate adequate economic investment in the regions associated with the exploitation of natural resources without generating the Dutch  Disease.

What is being done to expand Colombia’s commercial operations?

With our traditional partners we are consolidating free trade agreements (FTAs), as is the case with the U.S. – which has already been approved by the American Congress – and Venezuela. Our FTAs with Canada, Switzerland and Lichtenstein were formalized last year. An agreement is in progress with the EU and I trust that the European Parliament will approve it this year. We are advancing in our discussions with Turkey and South Korea, and we are initiating negotiations with Japan and Israel.

Which programs are you focusing on?

We have the satisfaction of having achieved or started to achieve many of our objectives. All are directed toward three fundamental goals: to maintain and improve the country’s security, create more and better jobs, and reduce poverty. All within a concept we have named ‘Prosperity for All’.
In this sense, the main challenge of our government is to reduce the enormous social gaps that exist in our country, which make Colombia one of the countries with higher levels of inequality in the world. Our objective is to pull 350,000 families out of extreme poverty, which means 1.5 million Colombians who barely survive with the minimum.
Another objective that also translates into prosperity is the construction of at least 1 million homes, mainly social housing for those Colombians who need it the most.

What is being done in Colombia to continue with high levels of growth while respecting the environment?

The creation of the Environment and Sustainable Development Ministry, our application to become part of the Investment Committee of the OECD, and the FTA with the U.S. – in which environmental issues are crucial – show just how committed the government is to achieving green growth, based on the preservation of the environment.

  11 COMMENTS



RENE GUARGUATI
17/07/2012  |  19:54
100% of 1

WE HAVE A GREAT COUNTRY THAT WANT TO IMPROVE SOCIAL DIFFERENCES DECREASE

Francisco Guerrero
03/09/2013  |  13:32
100% of 1

Yo creo que el presidente se esta precipitando con la negociación de la paz en las FARC

Dinora Duran Rosario
03/09/2013  |  14:31
100% of 1

Pues yo si que creo en que la paz es posible, animo!

Octaviano Carreón
05/09/2013  |  15:53
100% of 1

¿¿Qué dices Francisco?? hay que creer en la paz, es posible

玉造 哲也
16/09/2013  |  3:49
100% of 1

Pacific Alliance is showing a serious face to the rest of us Pacific Countries, very interesting and exciting.

Valentín Acuña
16/09/2013  |  22:06
100% of 1

Reelección ya!!

Imogen Goddard
18/09/2013  |  20:43
100% of 1

Good to read that 2 years after his government implemented the MPI-Colombia they have managed a fall in multidimensional poverty

平間 結菜
18/09/2013  |  23:37
100% of 1

Colombia is a country that has something for everyone, its wonderful, i hope they can make a lasting peace.

Joan Artiaga
19/09/2013  |  17:44
100% of 1

Creo que la mano dura de Uribe no era el camino hacia la paz.

勝目 凛
23/09/2013  |  16:39
100% of 1

コロンビアのICT部門は本当に印象的です

Ouadjaout Karim
23/09/2013  |  18:02
100% of 1

1,2,3 Viva Colombia!!