Following a two year trend, Colombia exports to the United States were down January compared to 2013, according to Colombia’s statistics agency. The free trade agreement between the two countries is only looking bleaker for the Latin American country.
Despite growth from December heading into the 2014, the promises of President Juan Manuel Santos that a US-Colombia free trade agreement (FTA) will benefit Colombia, are still yet to be seen in comparison to past years.
According to Colombia’s statistics agency DANE, January 2014 showed an 8% drop in exports from Colombia to the US compared to January 2013; last year’s January suffered nearly a 20% drop from 2012.
January exports to the US since 2008
While there is no way of saying that the FTA has negatively impacted exports to the US, it seems clear that it has not been a silver bullet to increase Colombia’s end of commerce with its biggest trade partner, as the numbers continue to fall.
Since the agreement came into affect in 2012, Santos’ 2011 promise of seeing a growth in Colombian exports of at least 6% did not come to fruition in 2013.
Annual exports to the US since 1995
With this already less-than-inspiring start to 2014, the president’s predictions do not seem hopeful in this very important election year.
This FTA in particular was a hallmark of Santos’ foreign economic policy early in his presidency and it is unclear if these dwindling numbers will affect voters’ decisions come time to decide if he deserves a second term. The presidential elections are scheduled for May 25.
What is interesting is that Santos continues to tout the FTA and praise the agreement saying that it is causing many businesses — not just from the US — to come and invest in Colombia.
The incumbent went on US political talk show “Morning Joe” this past December claiming that the FTA has made Colombia a financial leader in Latin America, and he said that “[Colombia] is becoming the darling of foreign investment [in Latin America].”
It is certainly true that the US has benefited from the free trade agreement with US imports to Colombia growing 10.9% in the past two years.
But for now all Colombia is getting from this FTA is declining exports year after year.