(Photo: la Informacion)

New figures from Colombia’s statics agency show a growth of industrial production in the country of over 2% compared to the same period in 2013, the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) reported.

With the exclusion of coffee-processing and despite a minor slump in April, robust growth from January to March resulted in an overall increase of 2.6% in industrial production during the first four months of 2014, shaking off concerns of the effect of a continually strong Colombian currency against the US dollar.

MORE: Industrial production in Colombia climbs for 3rd month

The growth is largely down to higher production in sugar mills (28.9%), drinks (6.0%), metallic minerals (4.1%), clothing (9.0%), other food products (5.8%), dairy products (4.9%), car bodies (55.1%) and other transportation (6.5%).

Despite the growth, concerns linger on the manufacturing sector. Japanese car makers Mazda, for example, recently announced it would be shuttering their last Colombian plant.

MORE: Mazda to shutter their car plant in Colombia

April growth contracts

According to DANE figures, April saw a minor slump of 2.2% lower production compared with last year’s unprecedented high during the same month. The numbers show that growth was recorded by only 18 of the industry’s 44 sub-sectors over April, according to Colombia’s W Radio.

In the same period, the majority of sub-sectors contracted causing employment in the sector fall 0.5%.

Export competitiveness concerns

The sector’s overall growth comes amid rising interest rates in Colombia and a strengthening local currency, the peso, which makes Colombian exports appear more expensive in foreign markets. The blow to export competitiveness, in conjunction with the signing of a trade deal which makes US imports cheaper in Colombia, creates difficult conditions for local manufacturers.

MORE: Colombia’s industrial production, sales up, even as exports fall: Business association


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