Colombia’s economy grew 3.6 percent in the third quarter versus the same period a year ago driven by mining, transport and communications but growth was below market expectations, the government said on Thursday.
A Reuters poll of 42 economic analysts earlier this week forecast the Andean nation’s economic growth at 4.54 percent for the third quarter.
Growth in Latin America’s No. 4 oil producer was dragged down by the construction sector which fell 10.5 percent in the quarter mainly due to a drop in public infrastructure works, the DANE statistics agency said.
The body said the mining sector increased 10.3 percent in the July-September period compared with a year ago while the transport and communications sector rose 7.6 percent.
“It leaves much to be desired. The consensus in the polls shows people were much more optimistic, it must be a disappointing figure in that sense,” said Camilo Perez, head of economic research at Banco de Bogota.
Regionally, Colombia’s growth is far behind economic powerhouse Brazil whose economy grew 6.7 percent in the third quarter compared with a year earlier while Chile’s gross domestic product expanded 7.0 percent in contrast.
In the year to September, Colombia’s economy grew 4.1 percent versus last year due to mining, manufacturing and trade, the DANE said in a statement.
The statistics body — which slightly lowered its second quarter growth to 4.4 percent from 4.5 percent previously — said the economy increased 0.2 percent between the second and third quarters.
“It’s bad, basically because investment and construction are worrying. The winter effect hasn’t been seen yet so a more complicated quarter remains in terms of growth,” said Daniel Velandia of the brokerage Correval.
Analyst expectations for annual growth this year and in 2011 have been lower as experts take into consideration the impact of heavy rains, which have caused as much as $5 billion in damages to crops, livestock, roads and infrastructure.
Colombia is facing what the government calls its worst natural disaster as bad weather, flooding and rains have killed more than 240 people and left nearly 2 million homeless.
Downpours have also hit a range of foreign exchange earners from the coffee sector to coal production in the world’s largest producer of high-quality Arabica beans and its fifth largest coal exporter.
The government has declared a temporary state of emergency for 30 days that allow Santos and Congress more flexibility to secure extra resources to recover from the disaster.
Colombia’s planning department, however, maintained on Thursday the government’s full-year 2010 growth estimate of 4.5 percent despite the lower-than-expected third quarter growth and heavy rains that continue to batter the nation.
The department’s director, Hernando Jose Gomez, said that Bogota also kept its 2011 growth target of 4.5 percent but said that it could reach up to 5 percent.
“We’ll have in 2011 the matter of public works which will generate much better economic activity and that is going to be coupled with good performance in private investment,” Gomez told journalists. (Jack Kimball / Reuters)