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Colombia: Sustaining reforms over time
Author: Doing Business
Publication: Doing Business 2013
Overview

Colombia’s commitment to regulatory reform has led to substantial improvements in the quality of the business environment and a more solid foundation for private sector development. Its experience shows the importance of sustaining reform efforts over time and adjusting them to the changing needs of the economy. Initially, most of the regulatory reforms took place at the national level. But as the business environment continued to improve, the reforms spilled over to the local level. Colombia’s experience is having “spillover” effects in the region as well. Bolivia has shown an interest in learning more about Colombia’s experience with business entry. Paraguay has sought to learn from Colombia’s innovations in construction permitting. And both Costa Rica and El Salvador intend to learn from Colombia’s trade logistics reforms. Colombia’s experience also shows the importance of setting out economic policy objectives. The government’s commitment to well-defined, long-term economic goals has helped drive implementation of the reforms. Having made major strides in safeguarding macroeconomic stability, the government widened the focus of its policies to include a range of institutional and economic reforms aimed at boosting productivity. The steady pace of change led to the development of the broader competitiveness agenda and the creation of a public-private partnership aimed at promoting business-friendly regulatory practices. Yet despite the government’s sustained efforts, and its success in improving the business climate and implementing an ambitious competitiveness agenda, a number of challenges remain. Addressing income inequality remains a key priority, in part because it would strengthen support in the business community and in civil society for the government’s overall development strategies.

While the country has more development hurdles to overcome, the measures taken over the past years have greatly improved its competitiveness. The regulatory reforms may take more time to show full results in all areas of doing business, but they have already led to substantial immediate benefits. 

Colombia’s reform agenda is expected to continue to expand—and to inspire further improvements in the region.