Bloomberg Economics has revealed that cocaine is accelerating to become Colombia’s main export, after generating $18.2 billion as revenue for the South American country in 2022.
The business and financial organisation said cocaine might overtake crude oil in revenue generation as production of the narcotic continues to expand.
Bloomberg economist, Felipe Hernandez disclosed that the Colombian government has employed a more lenient policy regarding drugs, and oil exports posted a fall of 30% in the first half and the trend of cocaine trade has consistently skyrocketed.
The economist noted this could mean that cocaine could be Colombia’s number one export as soon as this year 2023.
“We estimate cocaine export revenues jumped to $18.2 billion in 2022 — not far behind oil exports of $19.1 billion last year,” Hernandez said.
“The government is destroying laboratories where coca leaves are manufactured into cocaine, but that hasn’t prevented production from expanding.”
Colombia’s cocaine output surged to a record 1,738 tons last year, while the amount of land planted with coca, the raw material for making the drug, rose 13% to a record 230,000 hectares (570,000 acres) in 2022 from the previous year, according to a UN Office on Drugs and Crime report published this week.
Hernandez said the increase in cocaine production has had a short-term effect on activity, domestic demand and external accounts while not seeming to correlate with the performance of the Colombian peso.
President Gustavo Petro, the first Colombian leftist leader, has changed the nation’s approach toward drug trafficking, seeking to hit drug lords who benefit more from the sale of narcotics overseas.
The approach is not focused on targeting coca leaf producers, who are the weakest link in the production chain.
Petro is seeking talks with the nation’s main drug-trafficking groups, in the hope of ending six decades of civil conflict through peace accords.
The new policy approach toward drugs is facilitating illegal groups to increase cocaine production, Hernandez said.