Publication: Colombia : Country Economic Memorandum, The Foundations for Competitiveness

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Since Colombia's last Country Economic Memorandum (CEM) (1989) the country has endured several years of slow growth, burgeoning fiscal deficits, and high levels of debt. Colombia now is seeking to join a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States in the hope of stimulating growth and improving living conditions for the country as a whole. In response to the opportunities and challenges presented by the proposed FTA with the United States, the Colombian government has launched an "internal agenda," an action plan that involves major stakeholders -- public sector, private sector, and regional government -- aimed at obtaining greater levels of competitiveness. The government has articulated the need for greater understanding of the impact of the proposed FTA, and a strategy for a reform agenda that would enable the country to capture the potential benefits from freer trade and facilitate the transition to greater openness. This report is produced as an input into Colombia's reform agenda. It starts with an executive summary and policy report which presents the main findings and key policy recommendations of the three chapters comprising the report. Chapter 1 evaluates Colombia's business and growth environment and the likely challenges the manufacturing sector will face in taking advantage of the FTA with the United States. The chapter consists of three sections. Section I uses detailed survey data to identify the top constraints on growth and competitiveness of Colombian firms. Section 2 analyzes key developments in the manufacturing sector following the trade liberalization of 1990-91 using micro-level data, and highlights areas where reforms are needed. Section 3 examines the challenges and opportunities faced by small and medium-sized businesses in confronting a more open trading environment. Chapter 2 builds on the microeconomic issues raised in the first chapter, and follows with an evaluation of macroeconomic and fiscal (tax and expenditure) policies that are important for making the Colombian economy competitive. In this context, the study also evaluates the sustainability and trajectory of public debt. Finally, Chapter 3 examines the likely impact of agricultural liberalization on income distribution in the country under the proposed Colombian-U.S. FTA -- identifying who are the likely gainers and losers -- and assesses its impact on economic growth and poverty in the country.
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World Bank. 2005. Colombia : Country Economic Memorandum, The Foundations for Competitiveness. © Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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