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Colombia: Exports To Reach $40 Billion '10; Double In 4 YearsMonday, September 13, 2010 > 12:06:54
Colombian exports continue on pace to reach $40 billion in 2010 and the government expects sales abroad to double in the next four years, President Juan Manuel Santos said Wednesday.
Exports have surged 22% in the first seven months of the year and stand at $22.4 billion. Santos warned, however, that the jump in exports was mainly due to an increase in oil sales, while exports of other products have suffered this year.
Behind the decline in non-traditional exports, which exclude commodities, is a diplomatic spat with Venezuela which pushed Caracas to reduce purchases from Colombia. Since taking office in August, Santos has quickly moved to restore diplomatic ties with Venezuela, something which could help boost Colombian exports.
"We can expect that some exports will recover with the improvement in diplomatic relations with Venezuela," Santos said.
The government plans to boost exports by signing free-trade agreements and the first one likely to be finalized is with Canada. The Colombian Congress ratified Tuesday the free-trade deal and now the Colombian Supreme Court will decide whether to green-light the agreement. The government is also negotiating trade deals with other countries such as Japan.
Santos said his administration will try to persuade the U.S. Congress to approve a trade deal, which has been lingering in Washington. Some Democrats in Congress have criticized the deal citing concern over human right violations in Colombia, something Santos said was a mistake.
"The U.S. should follow the example of Canada" and ratify the trade deal, he added.
One of the main challenges for Colombian exports is the appreciation of the peso, which has gained nearly 11% over the last 12 months against the dollar. Santos repeated comments made last month saying he asked the central bank to be "bold and more creative" to curb the currency's appreciation.
Santos' demands have yet to produce results as the central bank continues to sit on the sidelines and is yet to take any measures to rein in the peso, which on Wednesday traded around COP1,803 per dollar.