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Colombia Colombia? The odds are that you cannot. Most of the country’s exports have been and continue to be natural resources and raw materials produced by its primary industries. For example, its mineral exports include coal, petroleum, nickel, gold, and emeralds. Coffee, sugar, bananas, and flowers are exported agricultural products (as are, of course, undocumented cocaine and heroin). Most exports go to the United States (42 percent) and neighboring Venezuela (10 percent) and Ecuador (6 percent). Because Colombia’s manufacturing sector is poorly developed, the country must depend on imports for many necessities. For example, it imports a considerable amount of machinery, transportation equipment, equipment for the oil and gas industry, and aircraft. The country also must import many consumer goods, fuel and electricity, and industrial items such as chemicals and paper products. Major import trading partners include the United States (29 percent), Mexico and China (each 8 percent), Brazil (7 percent), and Venezuela (6 percent). Fortunately, the country both exports and imports about $25 billion annually. As a result, it enjoys a relative balance of trade. During recent years, Colombia’s economy has shown signs of growth. The government has played an important role in this development. It has attempted to reduce public debt, not spend extravagantly, and improve national security. Further, steps have been taken to increase exports, including signing a free trade agreement with the United States. For the first time in a long time, Colombians can look to their country’s economic future with some sense of ­optimism.


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