Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Monday his country’s economy could post growth of more than 5.5% for 2011, above the 5% target.
Driven by strong consumer demand, increased foreign investment in the oil and mining sectors, and high state spending on public works, the economy grew by 7.7% in the third quarter, well above private forecasts.
“We can predict, not with certainty, but we’ve got good reasons, that economic growth may be above 5.5% and that will allow us to continue creating jobs,” Santos said.
The government’s growth forecast for 2011 is at 5%, but officials have previously said the country could expand at a faster pace.
Foreign investment should increase to more than $13 billion this year, from $9.6 billion in 2010, Santos said in a speech after a cabinet meeting.
Colombia’s economy has benefited from a 10-year military campaign against drug-funded insurgents, cutting murder and kidnapping rates. The offensive has made it safer for oil and mining investors to develop projects in rural areas.
Torrential rains that swept away bridges and roads during the year and left many rural communities cut off and unable to transport produce to market have caused serious economic damage.
But the government has spent heavily in recent months to rebuild infrastructure, which stoked economic growth in the third quarter.
Economic growth is helping to limit fallout from the financial crisis that started in the United States and spread to Europe, choking off credit and stifling consumer demand.