International Trade Report

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1 International Trade Report FIRST QUARTER 2015 COLOMBIA Freight volumes are expected to increase between 3-5% by the end of , year of adjustment for Colombian trade The foreign trade statistics for the first quarter of 2015 indicate that this will be a year of adjustment and transition for the Colombian economy, during which both importers and exporters will adapt to the country s new economic context. Nevertheless, our future growth expectation for Colombia s international trade is positive and we anticipate that freight volumes will increase between 3-5% by the end of Relative to the same period last year, containerized exports from Colombia fell in the first quarter of 2015, while containerized imports remained practically static. This shows that the devaluation of the Colombian peso, as well as the Free Trade Agreements (FTA s) with the United States, member countries of the Pacific Alliance, and Asia, have not yet produced the expected benefits. production capacities in many sectors. Meanwhile, due to existing reserves, importers are likely to be holding off on making new purchases while they wait for the currency s volatility to settle. However, with respect to trade in the Americas, the expectation continues that it will increase in the mid-term to the extent that exporters adapt to take advantage of the benefits of new trade agreements with countries in the region. Regarding trade with Asia, it is likely that containerized imports from Korea will continue to increase, driven by demand for autoparts. Moreover, India s expected growth could compensate for the foreign trade volumes with China, which have slowed down as demand from this country appears to have reached its peak. In that regard, the impact of the peso s devaluation on exports has been smaller than expected due to the rapid speed of the currency s depreciation, as well as the existence of inventories and fixed PAGE 1

2 Devaluation will boost exports In aggregate terms, Colombia s exports dropped 30% in the first quarter of 2015, in comparison to last year, due to the steep fall in international oil prices. It is worth noting that over the past decade, the country has been heavily dependent on hydrocarbons, with oil and coal accounting for 44% and 14% of total exports, respectively. That said, containerized trade figures become an important indicator to understand tendencies of consumption and production in the Colombian economy. In terms of containers, exports dropped 10% in the first quarter of 2015, largely driven by an atypical reduction in shipments of glass, construction materials and scrap metal, while containerized imports were practically stable, decreasing by less than 1%. The above figures indicate that the rapid depreciation of the Colombian peso also largely driven by the fall in international oil prices is yet to have a significant impact on trade volumes. We have yet to see an increase in exports, as fixed production capacities in key sectors like flowers and fruits limit exporters ability to respond. Moreover, some Colombian industrial exports depend on imported raw materials, so their cost of production has been impacted by the devaluation, says Juan Camilo Vásquez, Sales Manager for Maersk Line in Colombia. On the other hand, we have seen coffee exporters benefit from new currency levels because they are able to sell stored production stock. It is noteworthy that between January and March of 2015, Colombian banana exports rose 30%, driven by the overvaluation of the dollar in Ecuador, which raised the prices of its products and reoriented Northern Europe s demand to Colombia, adds Vásquez. Conversely, according to 2015 s first quarter data ( Q1 ) compiled by Maersk Line, a business unit of Maersk Group specialized in container transport, containerized imports from Europe increased 16%. Thus far, Europe is the only market in which we can see foreign exchange levels having a significant impact on trade. As the Euro became more accessible to Colombians during 2014, we saw a rise in imports of inputs like machinery, chemicals and fertilizers, as well as luxury automobiles, says Vásquez. PAGE 2

3 FTAs will have a greater impact in the mid-term We re optimistic that foreign trade will increase in the mid-term thanks to Colombia s flurry of activity in terms of Free Trade Agreements. However, up until now, newly signed or enacted deals have yet to affect real trade levels with the United States, Europe, Asia or member countries of the Pacific Alliance, such as Mexico, Chile, and Peru, says Vásquez. Although the changes in imports was less drastic Mexican imports fell 13%, Peruvian imports fell 6%, and Chilean imports grew 2% there was a fall in volumes across the board, in contrast with United States Despite the Colombian peso s depreciation relative to the dollar, containerized exports to the United States dropped by 10%. Upon taking a closer look at the data, this drop can be largely attributed to a fall in glass exports, which indicates that exports remained stable outside of this outlier case. However, given that the FTA with the United States has been in effect since 2012, this stability indicates that Colombian exporters have not been able to become more competitive in variables other than currency, which they do not control, says Vásquez. Vásquez adds that, although the government s 4G-infrastructure program is a step in the right direction, it is still a long way off from reducing costs and increasing competitiveness. With that in mind, exporters should take advantage of the breathing room being provided by the currency rate to invest in the efficiency and productivity of operations, thus benefitting more greatly from the large market provided by the FTA with the United States. Pacific Alliance In terms of the much-heralded Pacific Alliance, the data indicates that both exports to and imports from Mexico, Chile and Peru decreased relative to levels in the first quarter of Exports to Mexico dropped by 16%, while exports to Chile and Peru fell by 21% and 14%, respectively. We re optimistic that foreign trade will increase in the mid-term thanks to Colombia s flurry of activity in terms of Free Trade Agreements, says Juan Camilo Vásquez. expectations associated with the newly formed trade bloc between these four emerging economies. Juan Camilo Vásquez explains that while Chilean retail outlets have increased investments in Colombia, their products are arriving principally from Asia. In fact, traditional commodities such as wood and fruit are responsible for the growth in imports from Chile. PAGE 3

4 Betting on intra-americas trade Despite this year s drop in trade volumes with the United States, Mexico, Chile and Peru, Maersk believes in the mid-term potential for economic and trade growth in the Americas. In fact, Maersk Group hopes to contribute to the development of regional commerce through the recently-launched shipping line, SeaLand, a specialized intra-americas container transport service. Asia After a prolonged period of growth, trade with the Far East remained stable according to first quarter data. Although initially it could seem like there is no novelty here, we must keep in mind that trade with Asia has had a prolonged period of growth. This new stability indicates that China s slowing economic growth is causing trade volumes with Colombia to plateau. It will be interesting to see whether India s expected growth can make up for this tendency, says Vásquez. On the other hand, Korean imports increased by 5%, driven mostly by auto-parts. According to Vásquez, this is a reflection of the new trade trends that are being driven by Colombia s growing middle class. Despite the peso s depreciation and 2015 s expected economic slowdown, we believe trade with Korea will continue to grow at the same pace for the rest of the year, as incomes and vehicle financing alternatives continue to expand, boosting demand. It is worth noting that although the newly enacted free trade agreement with Korea has been criticized as a measure that will hinder the local auto industry, the data actually reveals an increase in imports of auto-parts that are assembled in Colombia, which is good for the country s industry. We believe that offering an alternative that focuses solely on north-south trade routes, with vessels calling at ports with strict arrival times, will allow us to deliver the reliability and special attention that regional trade requires, says Yenia Abadía, Colombian Country Director for SeaLand. In November of last year we launched SeaLand, a service designed around the needs and characteristics of trade within the Americas. We believe that offering an alternative that focuses solely on northsouth trade routes, with vessels calling at ports with strict arrival times, will allow us to deliver the reliability and special attention that regional trade requires, says Yenia Abadía, Colombian Country Director for SeaLand. Colombia is part of the M-15, a group of 15 emerging markets in which Maersk Group sees a great future. For this reason, we have created a new team in Colombia to concentrate on the market s opportunities. In a clear sign of the growing importance of Colombia for the Group, our office in Bogotá has been designated as an activity cluster for SeaLand in the region, adds Abadía. PAGE 4

5 A Comparison of Ports In the first quarter of 2015, the number of exported and imported containers decreased in nearly every principal port in the country, which include the ports of Buenaventura, Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta. The only exception is a 5% growth in imports through the port of Barranquilla, relative to the same period last year. Despite a total reduction in trade volume, investment in port infrastructure continued to grow. In the first quarter of 2015, a new expansion to the Buenaventura Container Terminal entered operation. Additionally, in the Colombian Pacific coast s principal port, expansion investments continued in the new Aguadulce Terminal. Moreover, in the case of Barranquilla, in 2014 operations began at the Barranquilla Container Terminal, and along with Cartagena, the Colombian Caribbean ports made new investments in refrigerated holds. In the mid-term, Caribbean coast ports will also benefit from navigability projects along the Magdalena River, which will increase competitiveness in foreign trade by means of river routes. In general terms, Buenaventura continues to be the Colombian port that moves the highest number of containers. For example, in the first quarter of 2015, it reached a volume that was 6.6 times greater than in Santa Marta, 5.2 times greater than in Barranquilla, and 1.3 times greater than in Cartagena, which is the port with the second highest level of container movement, and which leads the country in terms of containerized exports. In the first quarter of 2015, the top containerized export plastic moved primarily through the port of Cartagena, while the top containerized import machinery moved primarily through the port of Buenaventura. Despite a total reduction in trade volume, investment in port infrastructure continued to grow. Svendborg Maersk arrives at the Buenaventura Container Terminal. PAGE 5

6 MAERSK FUN FACTS Total Imports Q Total Exports Q Manufacturing 75% Agriculture & Lifestock 12% Fuels 12% Other 1% Fuels & Extractive Indus Products 57% Manufacturing 21% Agriculture & Lifestock, Food Products and Beverages 20% Other 2% This information is based off DANE statistics. Percentages are based on units Millions of Dollars Top 5 Containerized Imports Top 5 Containerized Exports 11% 10% 9% 8% 7% 14% 13% 11% 7% 7% Machinery Plastic Automobiles GDSM Paper Plastic Bananas Coffee Sugar Chemicals How big is a Maersk Line vessel? The largest vessels that attend the country are from the AC2 service. SVENDBORG MAERSK 347 METERS MONSERRATE 512 METERS BD BACATÁ 240 METERS TORRE COLPATRIA 192 METERS PAGE 6

7 About Maersk Line Maersk Line is the world s largest container shipping company. It has operated in Colombia for over 20 years and is today the industry leader, transporting 1 out of every 5 containers that moves through the country. With operations in over 120 countries and a fleet of over 600 ships that sail the most important trading routes in the globe, Maersk Line is able to observe trends in international trade from a privileged perspective. About Maersk Group Maersk Group employs about 6,800 people in Latin America and more than 89,000 around the world. The Group has offices in more than 130 countries. Maersk Group is a global conglomerate operating in transportation, shipping, and energy. The Group places great emphasis on the training and well-being of its collaborators, as well as longterm sustainability. For more information or to request an interview, please contact: Camilo De Guzmán Tel: +57 (300) / María Olga Corredor Tel: +57 (312) / William Moore Tel: +57 (300) / PAGE 7

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