Our comprehensive assessment of Colombia's operating environment and the outlook for its leading sectors are formed by bringing together a wealth of data on global markets that affect Colombia, as well as the latest industry developments that could impact Colombia's industries. This unique integrated approach has given us an impeccable track-record for predicting important shifts in the markets, ensuring you’re aware of the latest market opportunities and risks in Colombia before your competitors.

Country Risk

Colombia Country Risk

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Core Views:

  • Persistent weakness in benchmark crude prices will continue to undermine real export growth and fixed investment, helping to underpin our view for structurally slower growth over the next several years.

  • We also anticipate a slowdown in real private consumption growth as consumers are hit hard by high inflation, rising interest rates and a significant sell-off in the exchange rate.

  • Hydrocarbon sector weakness will also weigh on Colombia's balance of payment position. Faltering oil prices and production will temper investment into Colombia and cool export growth.

  • Meanwhile, slower oil production growth combined with increasing pressure to spend on social programmes will feed through to fiscal slippage in the years ahead. While the country is well positioned to withstand the storm, with a...

Colombia Operational Risk Coverage (9)

Colombia Operational Risk

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BMI View: Colombia offers considerable potential as an investment destination, with one of the largest populations in Latin America and a sizeable economy based on hydrocarbons and mining. Reforms enacted by the administration of President Santos have improved the operating environment, streamlining bureaucratic procedures, providing incentives for investment, and lowering trade barriers. Ongoing peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are also improving the security outlook. Nevertheless, Colombia continues to pose significant challenges to investors, as the rule of law remains weak, facilitating criminal and terrorist activity and allowing corruption to flourish. In addition, trading costs remain extremely high due to an inadequate transport network, and burdensome employment regulations further weigh on profit margins. Consequently, Colombia is a regional underperformer in...

Colombia Crime & Security

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BMI View: Despite significant improvements in the last decade, Colombia still presents considerable security risks for businesses and expatriate workers in comparison with other Latin American countries. The primary security issues are also shifting, highlighting significant differences between the main cities and the more isolated rural areas, both in terms of the type and intensity of threats. Crime risks in major cities are being driven by the activities of criminal gangs which have emerged from demobilised paramilitary and insurgent groups. Terrorist activity is more common in peripheral regions, with attacks frequently targeted towards critical infrastructure such as oil pipelines, electricity transmission networks and bridges. While successful military campaigns and peace efforts are slowly reducing the terrorist threat, businesses are increasingly exposed to criminal activities such as extortion and kidnapping...

Colombia Labour Market

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BMI View: Colombia offers a large, urbanised and relatively healthy labour force which is particularly suited to businesses in labour-intensive, low skilled sectors. The country's labour market also benefits from a strong tertiary education sector which improves the skill set of a segment of the labour force. However, high labour taxes and social security contributions, powerful trade unions which have driven significant labour strikes in recent years, and poor school enrolment rates, weigh on Colombia's overall performance. Colombia therefore receives a total Labour Market Risk score of 53.7 out of 100, ranking the country 19th out of 42...

Colombia Logistics

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BMI View: Colombia's large and growing economy, as well as its considerable population, requires a well developed logistics network in order to sustain growth. The country offers an extensive and reliable utilities supply, and its ports enable strong connections to maritime trade routes, facilitating speedy trade times. However, the expansion of the mining and oil and gas industries has placed pressure on Colombia's utilities sector, particularly the security of the country's water supply. In addition, while growth of these sectors has helped to develop Colombia's transport network, creating extensive road, rail and sea connections, all would benefit from further...

Colombia Trade & Investment

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BMI View: Colombia offers one of the largest markets for investment in Latin America, with an economy driven by the hydrocarbons and mining sectors, and a significant consumer market which is benefitting from rising incomes. Economic reforms, bureaucratic efficiency, and the ongoing peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have attracted increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows. In addition, trade barriers are few and the government has pursued a policy of making free trade agreements with key economic partners. Nevertheless, significant risks remain to be overcome by investors, mainly stemming from the legacy of internal conflict, which has resulted in a weak rule of law and widespread institutional corruption. Nevertheless, in the overall BMI...

Colombia Industry Coverage (19)

Agribusiness

Colombia Agribusiness

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BMI View: Colombia's agribusiness sector is being held back by a number of deep structural challenges - including the lingering consequences of internal armed conflict, structural inefficiencies, low competitiveness and poor policy choices. As a result, area cultivated and yields have stagnated over the past decade. But after several decades of disappointing growth in Colombia's agribusiness sector, the outlook for production and exports is brightening. The efforts made to resolve the conflict, coupled with the potential for upcoming agricultural reforms, have paved the way for the revival of Colombia's agribusiness. The coffee, fruits, sugar, palm...

Autos

Colombia Autos

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BMI View: A combination of a weakening peso and the likelihood of further interest rate rises in H116 both pose significant challenges to Colombia's new vehicle sales market in 2016. We are targeting a 3% increase in sales, with commercial vehicles set to outperform passenger cars.

Key Views

  • Vehicle sales have fallen sharply over 2015, against the backdrop of a slowdown caused by a drop in the global oil price.

  • In this weak environment, heavy trucks have proved the outperformers, falling by only 1.3%, compared to a 10.5% fall across the market as a whole.

  • We expect the outperformance by commercial vehicles over passenger cars to continue over 2016-2017, although passenger cars will continue to represent the lion's share of all vehicles sold in Colombia.

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Commercial Banking

Colombia Commercial Banking

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Commercial Banking Sector Indicators
Date Total assets Client loans Bond portfolio Other Liabilities and capital Capital Client deposits

Consumer Electronics

Colombia Consumer Electronics

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BMI View: We forecast the Colombian consumer electronics market to rebound modestly in 2016 following a period of sharp contraction in 2015 due to significant peso depreciation vis-a-vis the US dollar. The medium-term outlook is significantly stronger however, with the exchange rate expected to stabilise from 2016, enabling the Colombian consumer electronics market to return to a robust growth trajectory based on rising incomes and modernisation. This will allow vendors to tap into the relatively low penetration rates in key device categories such as PCs, smartphones and flat panel TVs. One potential risk we highlight is our expectation that oil revenues are set to head lower in the coming years, which will force the government into a...

Defence & Security

Colombia Defence & Security

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BMI View: Talks between the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government continue on. However, with little real progress made on this front, along with the scandal of the FARC capturing and subsequently releasing a military General, these are unlikely to be resolved in the near future. BMI expects that the defence budget and the subsequent increase in GDP will be used mostly to improve/maintain the Colombian government's military and security forces rather than for new procurements.

As one of the...

Food & Drink

Colombia Food & Drink

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BMI View: The impact of lower oil prices on Colombia's revenue will continue to affect our consumer outlook over the coming quarters. Faltering consumer confidence and the uptick in unemployment will weigh on private consumption growth. Combined will elevated inflation, it will put households purchasing power under strain and constrain food consumption (in real terms) and retail sales. Over the longer term, we still view Colombia as an attractive investment destination for food and drink companies and grocery retailers, due to market fragmentation by regional standards.

Headline Industry Data (local currency)

  • Total food consumption compound annual growth rate (CAGR), 2014 to 2019: +9.4%.

  • Alcoholic drinks value sales CAGR, 2014 to 2019: +6.4%.

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Freight Transport

Colombia Freight Transport

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BMI View: Despite a subdued outlook for Colombia's economy, we expect steady increases in agricultural output will ensure tepid growth in freight volumes in the coming years. We caution that a more robust expansion will be prevented by a slowdown in the consumer sector, weak global commodities and a lacklustre external picture. As a result, we expect the road and rail will display the largest gains vis-a-vis air freight.

The Colombian economy is set for a sharp slowdown in the coming quarters, as the country struggles in the face of weaker trade dynamics and slowing household spending. Indeed, after real GDP growth of 4.6% in 2014, we forecast expansions of just 2.9% and 3.4% in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Moreover, we expect real GDP growth will remain weak over the coming five years, averaging 3.4% compared to 4.8% in the past half decade, as the impact of...

Information Technology

Colombia Information Technology

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BMI View: The depreciation of the peso has historically hampered US denominated growth in the IT market. Nevertheless, we are now anticipating strong growth in the Colombian IT market in 2016. Our in-house Country Risk Team envisions a stable peso in 2016 and we have revised our growth trajectory upwards as we now maintain a bright medium-term outlook extending beyond 2016. Colombia, with strong economic performance and a supportive policy environment, will become a regional outperformer.

Headline Expenditure Projections

  • Computer Hardware Sales: COP3.67trn in 2014, rising to COP5.07trn by 2019. A combination of increased purchasing power (from 2016), educational procurement and the potential for sales to both first-time buyers and upgrades/replacements will make Colombia a regional...

Infrastructure

Colombia Infrastructure

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BMI View: The creation of a new private equity fund to allow pension funds to invest in infrastructure further diversifies Colombia's financing sources for projects, reducing the risks associated with the financing stage in the project cycle and improving the overall risk profile of the country. Furthermore, the new investment vehicle supports our positive forecasts for Colombia's construction industry in 2016.

Key Trends And Developments

  • In the new low oil price environment, our Country Risk team forecasts GDP to grow by 3.4% in 2016 after an average of 4.8% between 2010 and 2014. In turn, we forecast construction industry value to grow by 7.6% in real terms in 2016.

  • A new private equity fund that...

Insurance

Colombia Insurance

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BMI View: Colombia's insurance industry will continue to develop at a steady pace through the next few years, as robust economy and rising level of household and corporate spending provide a platform for growth in premiums. Local firms currently dominate underwriting activity in the country; however, we expect multinationals to play an increasingly important role going forward, as firms look to take advantage of what is a relatively untapped market. Product development and new distribution strategies will be key to allowing insurers to attract sales among poorer communities.

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Headline Insurance Forecasts (Colombia 2012-2019)
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Medical Devices

Colombia Medical Devices

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BMI Industry View: The medical device market will record moderate growth in local currency terms and low growth in US dollar terms over the forecast period. Slower GDP growth due to weaker oil production and lower oil prices, and a sizeable depreciation of the Colombian peso will constrain market growth. Imports will be slower in this decade than in the last, while exports will remain low despite currency depreciation. Market competition will intensify, keeping prices lower.

Headline Industry Forecasts

  • The market will register a 2014-2019 CAGR of 8.6% in local currency terms and 4.3% in US dollar terms, reaching COP3.9trn (USD1.6bn). Real GDP growth will slow in 2015 as the impact of weaker oil production and lower oil prices weighs on trade dynamics and undermines consumer confidence. The low dollar growth rate will reflect a sizeable...

Mining

Colombia Mining

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BMI View: Mining sectors across Central America and the Caribbean will see varying growth prospects in 2019. The region has significant untapped mineral potential, yet a range of business environments and operational challenges will lead to uneven growth. Overall, the mining sectors of Colombia and Panama will see the strongest longer-term growth, while Guatemala, and to a lesser extent Honduras, will underperform.

Colombia and Panama will outperform other countries in Central America and the Caribbean in terms...

Oil & Gas

Colombia Oil & Gas

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BMI View : Colombia's energy sector is nearing an inflection point. While the past decade has witnessed strong production growth due to improvements in the business and security environment, we caution that the country will experience downward pressure on oil production over the longer term. The tendency toward smaller finds, as well as recent increases in pipeline attacks have begun to show signs of decreased investor interest in Colombia's resources, as witnessed in the 2014 licensing rounds. Furthermore, sustained lower oil prices have threatened the development of upstream and downstream projects by both national and international investors. Given...

Petrochemicals

Colombia Petrochemicals

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BMI View: The Colombian petrochemicals industry reported an overall solid growth performance in 2015, although rubber output was hit by a contraction in sales that was partly caused by a decline in output in the automotive industry. The refining sector is expanding with the potential for increased naphtha feedstock for petrochemicals, but this will be insufficient for any new cracker facility in the country.

The Colombian petrochemicals industry saw mixed results in 2015 with strong growth in basic chemicals and contraction in synthetic rubber. In 9M15, the real production index for basic chemicals and their derivatives grew by an average of 6.9% y-o-y on the back of 6.9% growth in the sales index. However, over the sale period the real production index for rubber slumped 10.2% y-o-y with the sales index declining 11.5%....

Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

Colombia Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare

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BMI View: A growing burden of chronic diseases, along with the Colombian government's push toward improving health coverage, will ensure the country's retained appeal to multinational drugmakers and healthcare suppliers. However, high levels of debt among some health insurance providers will fuel instability in the health care sector.

Headline Expenditure Projections

  • Pharmaceuticals: COP8,643bn (USD4.32bn) in 2014 to COP9,101bn (USD3.32bn) in 2015; +5.3% in local currency terms. Forecast broadly unchanged from...

Power

Colombia Power

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BMI View: A sharp fall in hydropower generation due to El Nino, coupled with a lack of domestically produced feedstock to ramp up natural gas-fired power generation, will raise a risk of power rationing in Colombia over Q1 2016. The country's robust pipeline of new hydropower and coal-fired power projects supports our positive growth outlook for the market over the long term, with new renewable energy incentives posing only limited upside potential to our forecast for the sector.

Headline Power Forecasts (Colombia 2014-2020)
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Retail

Colombia Retail

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BMI View: With the fourth largest economy in Latin America, measured by GDP, Colombia's retail sector presents many opportunities for international and domestic retailers, as well as investors.

Years of economically sound policy have lowered barriers to entry for international firms, and sustained economic growth has brought lower unemployment rates and higher levels of affluence for a significant portion of the population. However, lingering poverty levels, a deficient physical and transportation infrastructure, and the slow rate of non-cash payment integration into the economy continue to remain a hindrance to achieving full economic growth potential. Nevertheless, significant opportunities remain. In particular, the continuing fall of the informal sector's market share and the continuing rise of e-commerce and online retail should...

Shipping

Colombia Shipping

BMI View:

BMI View: The healthy level of growth seen at Colombia's main ports in 2015 is a trend we anticipate to continue over not only the short but medium term. Short-term growth will be stymied slightly, however, by slowing growth in Colombia, which will affect domestic demand for goods transported by sea. In 2016, we forecast that the leading port in y-o-y tonnage and box terms will be the port of Cartagena, which will see y-o-y gains of 5.00% and 5.01%, respectively.

Key drivers underpinning our forecasts include the fact that Colombia's consumer confidence index reading plunged in August 2015, contracting by 0.4% in that month, which further underpins our view for slowing growth in Colombia, and an area for concern for the country's shippers as demand for goods transported via sea could fall going forward. With rising inflation cutting into consumer purchasing power, and consumer confidence...

Telecommunications

Colombia Telecommunications

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BMI View: We retain the view in our Q1 2016 report that the Colombian market is witnessing a systemic shift where traditional mobile operators are witnessing a loss in their share and market positions as the MVNO and low cost carriers begin to make a significant dent in the landscape The recent CRC legislation that aims to simplify the market entry and operation of MVNOs will further force ARPU levels downwards. 4G and LTE uptake is not significant enough at this point to entirely alter the dynamics of the industry growth. Nevertheless, the market has posted strong growth in the past three years and we believe this trajectory will continue at a reduced pace. However, we caution that a sizeable number of inactive accounts may exist in the market.

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