Colombia finmin says 2015 current account gap at 'unsustainable level'

miércoles 25 de noviembre de 2015 14:03 GYT

BOGOTA Nov 25 (Reuters) - Colombia will likely have a current account deficit this year of 6.2 percent of gross domestic product, or at about $18 billion, which Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas said on Wednesday was an "unsustainable level."

The current account deficit at such a level would indicate a widening from 2014 when it closed the year at 5.2 percent of GDP. In the first half of this year, the deficit was measured 6.2 percent of GDP, or $9.5 billion, according to government figures.

"There's a series of factors, mostly external, in which we have to use all our policy tools," Cardenas said during a financial conference in Bogota.

"This year, we are estimating a current account deficit of about $18 billion, which is an unsustainable level," he added.

The increase is largely due to lower prices for crude oil - the country's top export and key source of foreign exchange. Cardenas said the decline in oil revenue has cost the country 20 trillion pesos ($6.5 billion) between 2013 and 2016.

"Oil revenue has disappeared," he said.

The wider gap is also partly due to a severe depreciation in the peso currency, which has weakened about 43 percent against the dollar in the last 12 months. (Reporting by Carlos Vargas, writing by Helen Murphy, editing by G Crosse)