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Letter from... Bogotá

27 April 2020

By Claudia de Francisco, Managing Partner, SEC Newgate Colombia

After a month of mandatory confinement, Colombia faces the challenge of finding a balance between continuing to control the pandemic and reopening the economy.

The National Government announced that the mandatory isolation period will be extended until May 11 by which point the country will have completed 47 days of quarantine.

In order to start a gradual reactivation of the economy, from today, and under strict security protocols, the operation of two sectors of the economy will be allowed. The first is the manufacturing industry that generates 2.4 million jobs and represents 11.1% of the labor market and 11% of GDP. The second, the construction sector, which employs 1.5 million people (7.1% of the market) and generates 9% of GDP.

These measures are in addition to those previously announced regarding older adults, school children and students, who must remain home until May 31.

The success of the quarantine can be seen in the significant decrease in the speed of viral infections. When Covid-19 entered Colombia, a person with a positive diagnosis was infecting on average 2.5 people. Today that number is close to one.

Analysis from the economic sector predicts that the behavior of the economy for 2020 will oscillate between growing at 1% and decreasing at -2%. The International Monetary Fund projects a decrease of 5.2% for Latin America and 2% for Colombia, a much better number than the main countries of the region but a depressing outlook for the year.

Despite the frustrations brought about by the quarantine and measures to slow the virus, we are all becoming used to the new normal and latest figures suggest 63% approval of President Duque's management of the health crisis. As we look towards coming out of this situation, the nation is looking for answers to fears around employment and securing our economy.