Colombia needs to jumpstart innovation over the next 20 years to create sustainable growth rates while continuing to make progress on peace building, the eradication of poverty, and shared prosperity, according to economist William Maloney of the World Bank.
Maloney, chief economist of trade and competitiveness at the World Bank, spoke at Javeriana University in Bogota Wednesday, making recommendations on how to secure long term growth in Colombia.
“The adoption of new technologies is the way to create sustainable growth, and President [Juan Manuel] Santos’ announcement in his first term that innovation is the engine of growth was very important,” explained Maloney.
Maloney went on to suggest that continuity of economic policy could be the main impediment to growth and productivity development, expressing that changes made in the National Planning Department caused the productivity agenda to weaken.
In Maloney’s opinion, Colombia lacks a comprehensive political vision with regard to increasing competitiveness.
“I know there are a lot of committed officials who know what needs to be done, but a consistent policy over time is lacking.” Maloney added. “There are countries to whom it is very clear where the policy is going and what the long term agenda is and you can’t play too much with that.”
Maloney acknowledged that recent changes in commodity prices, most importantly the precipitous drop in the price of crude, have affected Colombia’s economic landscape, but he also praised Colombia’s economic diversification as helping to blunt the effects of that external shock and encouraged a continuation of diversification.
Maloney also touched on how management practices need to be improved in Colombia to increase productivity.
According to a study conducted by the World Bank and the London Business School of Economics, Colombia ranks lower than all countries in Latin America, except Nicaragua, in management practices.
Maloney suggested that Colombia needs to “generate a conscience of competitiveness” to reduce the gaps in productivity that it has with other countries.
“That’s how they feel in Singapore, and that’s what can be done in Colombia.”