In this alert, we look at Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s first months in office and the outlook for his reform agenda in 2023. We discuss the implications for U.S.-Colombia relations and for doing business in the country.
- Petro’s election has led to a reconfiguration of power structures in Colombia and a change in the way policies are designed and implemented. The administration has a statist bent and views the private sector’s role as less prominent than prior administrations. There is less emphasis on attracting investment.
- This year will be crucial for Petro’s reform agenda and for his party, Pacto Histórico. The government’s energy transition policy and labor, health care, and pension reforms will shape Colombia’s economy in the decades to come and companies will need to be on notice that coming changes may be profound.
- The Biden and Petro administrations have made efforts to find common ground. But the change of leadership in the House of Representatives, the proximity of the 2024 U.S. presidential election, an emboldened Florida GOP, and implementation of controversial reforms in Colombia could test the relationship in 2023.
- Security remains a key concern for companies doing business in Colombia and conditions have deteriorated in the past few years. Progress on peace negotiations and the government’s new crime and drug policies will determine whether conditions improve.
Petro’s First Months in Office
“Today begins the Colombia of the possible. Today begins our second opportunity,” Petro told a cheering crowd in Bogotá on August 7. His inauguration as President of Colombia, he said, marked the end of Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude for the Colombian people. The election and orderly transition to a left-wing former guerrilla president and the first Afro-Colombian vice president in the country’s history showed the strength of Colombia’s democracy, one of the oldest and most stable in the Americas.