Colombian exporters ask govt to curb strong peso

Colombian exporters and producers have asked the government to take additional measures to keep the peso in check against the dollar.

Javier Diaz, president of the National Association of Exporters, ANALDEX, and Agosto Solano, president of the Colombian Association of Flower Exporters, told the Associated Press they had spoken with government officials on several occassions about revaluing the peso.

The exporters want authorities to take measures to assist producers and exporters in the face of the peso’s rally against the dollar.

“We are very worried about the uncertainty that lays ahead and we don’t feel they are taking important steps,” said Solano.

Solano said that his is one of the most affected sectors becuase “we export 100% of what we produce and we are very labor intensive. 55% of our costs are spent on wages and our prices have not soared as they have with the coffee, petroleum, minerals and sugar.”

He added that last year the value of Colombian flower exports was the same as that of 2010, $1.25 billion, despite the continued growth of the national economy. The fact that there was no increase in the figure was largely due to the appreciation of the peso.

The appreciation of the peso “not only hits the exporters but also those producers who are competing with imported products. Now it is much more profitable to import a product than to produce it domestically,” said Diaz.

Regarding the revaluation he said, “One must look at the longer term because if this phenomenon persists, it will begin to affect employment.”

The Finance Minister Juan Carlos Echeverry said the government had been taking steps to reduce the amount of currency in the market since taking office in August 2010, but “the currency war is very strong.”

He continued “I have always said the government has behaved like an exporter, in fact we are an exporter and we care about the exchange rate [and] competitiveness like any other exporter in the country.”

Between January 2011 and the same month in 2012, the Colombian peso increased in value 0.9%, the same as the Chilean peso but less than the Brazilian real (3.3%), according to Rodrigo Carcamo, Economics Officer at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

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