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International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
Colombia’s economy rebounded strongly in 2021 with 10.6 percent growth led by pent-up domestic demand, notably private consumption. Around 66 percent of the population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19 as of end-February and the economy continues to reopen more fully. While GDP has already reached pre-pandemic levels, employment has trailed in its recovery and macroeconomic imbalances have emerged. Amid strong demand, supply constraints, and rising commodity prices, rising inflation exceeded the upper limit of the central bank’s tolerance range in 2021. With demand-led growth and higher import prices, the current account deficit widened to 5¾ percent of GDP. Under staff’s assumptions for the evolution of the pandemic, above-potential growth around 5½ percent is expected in 2022, led by robust household consumption and a continued recovery of investment and exports. External vulnerabilities remain elevated with high external financing needs and tighter financial conditions. External risks remain elevated and an intensification of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine may impart considerable volatility in financial and commodity markets. Domestic risks are also tilted to the downside—including uncertainty around the evolution of the pandemic, political uncertainty with national elections this year, and slower implementation of the infrastructure agenda and peace accords.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

Abstract

An economic recovery is underway in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) but the pandemic still casts shadows on much of the region. The recovery was robust in the first quarter of 2021 but lost momentum in some countries in the second quarter, reflecting the rebound in COVID-19 cases. Real GDP is projected to grow by 6.3 percent in 2021, followed by a more moderate growth of 3 percent in 2022, but would not catch up with pre-pandemic trends in the medium term as persistent weakness in labor markets raises risks of scarring. Broadly favorable external conditions, high commodity prices, and pent-up demand support short-term growth, while monetary and fiscal policy reversals work in the other direction. Risks to the outlook are tilted downward. Main downside risks are the emergence of more transmissible and deadlier COVID-19 variants, tightening of global financial conditions, sovereign debt rollover risks, and social unrest as a year with heavy election schedule looms. Fiscal policy should allocate sufficient resources for health spending, including vaccination, and continue to support households and firms in a more targeted fashion while the pandemic persists, backed by credible assurances of medium-term debt sustainability to maintain access to finance. Monetary policy has started to address inflationary pressures but should continue to support economic activity insofar as the dynamics of inflation expectations permit. If rising inflation threatens to de-anchor inflation expectations, central banks should tighten monetary policy to signal a commitment to inflation targets and avoid persistent increases in inflation. Preemptive and decisive action should be accompanied with clear and transparent communication. Financial policy should shift from blanket support to targeted support of viable firms, to ensure that necessary labor and capital reallocations are not hindered. Supply-side policies should foster inclusive growth, including through progressive and growth-friendly tax reforms and measures to intensify climate change adaptation and mitigation.

International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
The pandemic hit the Chilean economy while it was recovering from the 2019 social unrest. The authorities’ swift and strong economic policy efforts and Chile’s very strong institutional frameworks helped buffer the economic and social consequences. The ongoing economic recovery continues to be supported by ample policy stimulus, a rapid vaccination process, well-anchored inflation expectations, a resilient export base, and continued market confidence.