Colombia: free market cheerleader

Financial Times  Blog by Naomi Mapstone  03/27/12
Few politicians in Latin America have the flair of Colombia’s finance minister, Juan Carlos Echeverry, when it comes to making a point. Opening up an economy is “as painful as giving birth”, Echeverry told Reuters recently. The fact that Brazil and Argentina remain oblivious to Echeverry’s point, sticking uncompromisingly with protectionism, is an irritation for many in the region. Echeverry steered clear of making any criticism of either country in his comments, and instead underscored the benefits of Colombia’s free market model, which has it set for 4.5 per cent GDP growth this year, after clocking up 5.8 per cent in 2011. “There are two visions,” he said. The message we send to our producers is you are in the world, not just Colombia. The future is about being competitive and this is as painful as giving birth.” Colombia’s commitment to this challenge is evident. Amid rapid peso appreciation, the government has long resisted pressure from exporters to devalue the soaring peso, and the Central Bank has just held interests after nine hikes in just over a year.


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