Nope, it’s not Brazil. The gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for Brazil was lowered from 2.2 percent in January 2014 to 1.8 percent in June 2014, according to The Economist. That means Brazil is expected to grow more slowly than the United States this year.
It’s not Peru, “a country that has enjoyed Asian-style growth averaging 6.4 percent a year in 2003-13.” Peru’s growth has benefited from the country’s role as a major producer of gold and copper. During 2014, Peru dropped to second place in Latin America’s economic growth contest.
So, who’s in first? Here are a few hints:
- It’s between Ecuador and Venezuela
- It has a coastline on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea
- It’s the second most bio diverse country in the world (In addition to having lots of butterflies, orchids, and amphibians, it has more bird species than Europe and North America combined.)
- Americans of a certain age may remember it as the epicenter of the 1980s war on drugs (Think cartels and FARC guerillas.)
That’s right. Colombia’s economy is expected to deliver the fastest growth in Latin America during 2014 – and its vibrancy is unrelated to drugs. Like Peru, Colombia is a beneficiary of the commodity lottery. Its main exports are oil and coal whose prices have held up better than those of gold and copper in recent years. In addition, The Economist reported the country has benefitted from a variety of reforms and development efforts including:
“A law in 2012 cut onerous payroll taxes (while raising income tax on the better-off). The result is that formal-sector jobs are growing at 8 percent a year, while the large informal sector has started to shrink, which ought to boost productivity. Ambitious, albeit delayed, private-public partnerships in roads and railways should see investment of up to $25 billion by 2018.”
The country’s leaders also implemented a fiscal rule that has reduced the public-sector deficit to less than 1 percent of GDP.
Colombia’s economic growth potential is mitigated by the risks of its ongoing civil conflict. President Juan Manuel Santos was re-elected after campaigning on a promise to negotiate peace with FARC guerillas.