October 24, 2019 / 4:53 PM / 19 days ago

Colombia's economy doing well, but 'courageous' reforms needed: OECD

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia is prepared to confront economic uncertainty caused by international turbulence but should make reforms to improve productivity, reduce tariffs and regulatory burdens, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said on Thursday.

Latin America’s fourth-largest economy will expand 3.4% this year and 3.5% in 2020, the organization said in a report, above the average of the group’s other members. But a trade imbalance, geopolitical uncertainty and the weakness of developed economies could lower those estimates.

The predictions are in line with those from the International Monetary Fund, which has said the Andean country will have some of the best growth figures in the world in 2019.

Reforms carried out in recent years have reduced poverty, improved social conditions and given Colombia a solid economic outlook despite international trends, the organization said.

“In this international context Colombia has defended itself well... it’s going up while the world is going down,” OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria said during a presentation of the report in Bogota.

But reforms are needed, including speeding the use of technology, promoting labor formalization and diversifying exports, reducing the costs of registering new businesses, lowering non-salary labor expenses and improving legal security, Gurria said.

“The implementation of courageous structural reforms will contribute to Colombia converging toward the standard of living of other countries in the OECD, materializing its potential and achieving a more inclusive economy,” he said.

Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Dan Grebler

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