Colombia may be biggest winner after fall of emerging-market currencies

Street vendors in Cali, Colombia, whose real effective exchange-rate has depreciated 24 per cent in the past 12 months.
Street vendors in Cali, Colombia, whose real effective exchange-rate has depreciated 24 per cent in the past 12 months.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

BOGOTA (BLOOMBERG) - Colombia may end up being the biggest winner among exporters from the plunge in emerging-market currencies over the past year.

The South American nation's real effective exchange-rate, a trade-and inflation-weighted measure of the currency's strength, has depreciated 24 per cent in the past 12 months.

That's the most among nine developing countries from China to Brazil, according to a study by Brown Brothers Harriman analysing data from the Bank of International Settlements up to the end of July. When the gauge falls, it means exports become cheaper and more attractive to buyers.

"Colombia has gained a lot of competitiveness towards its trading partners," Ilan Solot, a strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman, said from London. "It's going to be a factor helping Colombia recover, and make up for the losses it's taking as its commodity exports fall in value."

The collapse in oil, Colombia's chief export, has pushed the peso down 37 per cent over the past year. Central bank Governor Jose Dario Uribe told lawmakers on Wednesday (Aug 19) that the currency's decline is a natural response to cheaper crude prices, and it should help boost the country's competitiveness.

A custom index tracking 20 developing-nation currencies has fallen 21 per cent over the past 12 months as commodity prices tumble, growth in China slows and rising short-term bond yields in the US attract international investors.